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ON DANGEROUS GROUND. 

AND VEL. 



BY 



EDITH STEWAET DEEWEY, 

AUTHOB OF " A DEATH RING," " SWORN FOES," " BAPTISED 
WITH A CURSE," "TWO FLOWERS," ETC., ETC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 



VOL. I. 



LONDON: F. V. WHITE & CO., 
31 SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, W.C. 



18 8 3. 
\_AU Rights reserved.] 



F. V. WHITE & CO.'S 
SELECT NOVELS. 

Crown Zvo^ cloth^ 3^. dd. each. 



The following Volumes of the Series are now ready: — 
MY SISTER THE ACTRESS. By Florence Marryat. 

' " My Sister the Actress " is the best novel we have had the pleasure of 
reading from the pen of Miss Marryat.' — yo/m Bull. 

THE DEAN'S WIFE. By Mrs Eiloart. 

i ' Any reader who wants a good story thoroughly well told cannot do better 
! than read " The Dean's Wile." ' — John Bull. 

j A BROKEN BLOSSOM. By Florence Marryat. 

1 a really charming story, full of delicate pathos and quiet humour ; 
' pleasant to read and pleasant to remember.' — John Bull. 

I TWO MEN AND A MAID. By Harriett Jay. 

1 ' Compared with the former works of the authoress of " The Queen of 
i Connaught," this novel must be pronounced second to none.' — Graphic. 

\ SWEETHEART AND WIFE. By Lady Constance 
I Howard. 

I 'The story from first to last is attractive, and cannot fail to command 
; wide favour.' — [Whitehall Review. 

\ PHYLLIDA. By Florence Marryat. 

' '"Phyllida" is a novel of which the author may be justly proud.' — 

I Morning Post. 

j BARBARA'S WARNING. By 'the Author of ' Recom- 

I mended to Mercy.' 



COLSTON AND SON, TRINTEKS, EDINBURGH. 






CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

AN ODD ADVERTISEMENT, 

CHAPTER II. 

THE MAN WHOSE WIFE SHE WAS, 

C£) CHAPTER III. 

DOUGLAS GLEN-LUNA, 

V CHAPTER IV. 

VERY TENDER HEARTED, 

CHAPTER V. 

ON DANGEROUS GROUND, 

) CHAPTER VL 

A FURTHER INSIGHT, 

CHAPTER YII. 

A DRIVE, .... 

CHAPTER VIII. 

it's no BUSINESS OF MINE, 

CHAPTER IX. 

A VERY STRANGE ACCIDENT, . 



TACK 
1 



13 



44 
53 

64 

78 

92 
99 



PAGE 



iv Contents. 

CHAPTER X. 

SISTER rose's words COME TRUE, . . 116 

CHAPTER XL 

BEHOLD, A LITTLE CLOUD ARISETH NOW, LIKE 

UNTO A man's hand, . . . 130 

CHAPTER XII. 

GIVING A DIAMOND, . . . . 143 

CHAPTER XIII. 

SUNDAY MORNING, . . . . 151 

CHAPTER XIY. 

RETURN HOME, . . . . 160 

CHAPTER XY. 

DR NEVILLE LAYS DOWN THE LAW, . . 172 

CHAPTER XVI. 

READ THE RIDDLE NEAR HOME, . . 183 

CHAPTER XYII. 

" NOUS AVONS CHANGE TOUT CELA," . 193 

CHAPTER XYII I. 

THE NEXT MORNING, . . . 207 

CHAPTER XIX. 

SISTER ROSE GOES TO LUNA PARK, . . 216 

CHAPTER XX. 

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER, . . . 236 



ON MNGEEOUS GROUND. 



CHAPTER I. 




AN ODD ADVERTISEMENT. 

HOUSE in a quiet street in the 
west central district, a small 
parlour, modestly furnished, and 
a woman pacing to and fro its narrow 
limits with a quick, restless step, to which 
one glance at her face, with its lines of 
care and suffering, gave a deeper, sadder 
meaning than mere impatience of mood 
or passing fretfulness at the perpetual 
patter of the rain in the dreary street 

VOL. I. A 



2 An Odd Adve7^tisement. 

outside — all the more dreary in the grow- 
ing gloaming. Singularly incongruous and 
out of place, too, she looked in the dingy 
parlour, this superbly handsome woman, 
rich in the majestic beauty of her five-and- 
twenty years, perfect grace and ease in 
every turn, every movement of the tall 
slight form, in the carriage of the small 
finely-posed head — the stamp of that blue 
blood which only ages of birth and culture 
can give and no gold can buy, thank 
Heaven ! 

One action of hers told a story, for twice 
in her restless walk she paused to look at 
her left hand, on which a wedding-ring 
flittered : and the second time struck it 
almost passionately with her right, and 
wrung them in mute anguish, then turned 
sharply as with a slight tap the door 
opened, and a little round, good-natured 
looking body came in with some journal 
in her hand. 

" Good morning, ma'am ; the boy's 



An Odd Advertisement. 3 

brought your AthencBum, and I hope 
there'll be something in it for you this 
time — not had no success, I suppose, my 
dear ? " 

Mrs May's beautiful tenant shook her 
head. 

" No, Mrs May, it's all against me — this 
being married — they all draw back when 
it comes to that miserable fact ; it is no 
use to tell them that I have a legal separa- 
tion, and that Mr Albany cannot molest 
me, or refer them to my lawyers in proof 
of that and a reference for myself ; and you 
know, Mrs May, that all the two years I 
have been your tenant — poor Professor 
Merton's secretary — I have never even 
known where my husband was, and do 
not now." 

" It's a cruel thing, ma'am, I do say ! " 
said the little landlady indignantly, " and 
you got your marriage lines and all, and 
so clever and handsome too, and such a 
one to work too, and the poor dear blind 



4 An Odd Advertisement. 

professor dead three months, and you can't 
get no work 1 It's a right down cruel 
shame, Mrs Albany ! " 

The other stood looking down on her 
for a moment, and then said with a heavy 
sigh,— 

*' Everything is so fearfully overcrowded 
now-a-days, secretaryships are especially 
close, and for teaching, as I say, ladies (and 
I don't blame them) are naturally shy of a 
woman, the more so if she has good looks, 
who is a separated wife. I tell you plainly, 
Mrs May, that, as things are now with me, 
I shall not be able to stop on here long, for 
I will starve before I owe — especially to a 
hard-working woman like yourself." 

" Now, Mrs Albany, I can't a-bear such 
words ! " exclaimed the landlady ; " some- 
thing must turn up soon ! Why, there 
might be something in that there very 
paper ! Surely every one won't mind the 
marriage. I wish you was a widow out- 
right, I do ! " 



An Odd Advertisement. 5 

So perhaps in her secret heart did Gab- 
tielle Albany, but she only took up the 
AthencBum listlessly enough, and ran her 
eyes down the first advertisement columns. 
The next moment she started, with a half 
uttered exclamation. 

"What a strange advertisement! Listen, 
Mrs May. ' Wanted immediately, an accom- 
plished woman, who will act as companion 
to a young lady, and also as secretary, and 
to be generally useful to a semi-invalicT. 
Applicant must be a married woman. High- 
est references exchanged. Address,' etc." 

" Why, ma'am ! " cried out the little 
May excitedly, " that's just cut out for 
you ; did you ever now ! You answer it, 
and my son shall post it, quick." 

" Thank you, dear Mrs May ; but there 
is no such desperate hurry, as, being after 
six, my answer could not reach till to- 
morrow morning. The address is, ' G. L., 
Great Western Hotel.' " 

" Well, ma'am, you ring when your letter 



6 An Odd Advertisement. 

is ready," said Mrs May, nodding emphati- 
cally, "and it shall go ;" and off she trotted 
like a good-natured little barrel on legs, 
while Mrs Albany opened her desk, not, 
however, with any expectation of even a 
reply ; she had suffered and knocked about 
the world too much to expect anything. 
She wrote full particulars so far as business 
necessity required, and named her lawyers 
and the widow of her late employer as 
references, and when her letter had gone 
^ there was nothing to be done but wait ; 
indeed, she put the whole matter from her 
mind as much as possible, though now and 
then she wondered why the applicant must 
be married. Was the "semi-invalid" of the 
male persuasion ? Perhaps possibly some 
boy of eighteen, whose anxious mamma 
was afraid of his falling in love ? 

" Bah ! what matters it ? " she muttered 
bitterly ; " I would give this right hand to 
undo that one fatal, miserable mistake of 
nine years ago." 



An Odd Advertisement. 7 

Nine years ! Had she been then only 
a child of sixteen when the shackles of a 
cruelly disastrous marriage were laid upon 
her ? Whose had the fault been ? At whose 
door lay the wrong ? Surely, with those 
who had left her year after year, a poor 
little neglected thing, in a dreary school 
that was simply a cold, harsh, loveless 
prison house, to the wild, free, high spirit 
it could not break or tame, but only mad- 
den into desperate recklessness ; and sO, 
when handsome, wicked Leicester Albany 
crossed her path, and whispered of his love, 
and of freedom with him in foreign lands, 
she, mere child of just sixteen, saw only 
the escape, and fled with him, bound once 
and for all, wedded for life before she 
knew or dreamed w^hat heavy chains she 
had put upon herself. 

Saturday passed without any answer ; all 
Sunday, of course ; but on Monday morn- 
ing came a letter, in a regular lady's hand. 

" Lady Glen-Luna presents her compli- 



8 An Odd Advertisement, 

ments to Mrs Albany, and would like to 
see her at eleven o'clock precisely. Great 
Western Hotel." 

And exactly at eleven Gabrielle Albany 
was at the hotel, where a waiter at once con- 
ducted her to a private room and left her. 

But she had not long to wait, when the 
door again opened and admitted, not a tall, 
stately dame, but the smallest, daintiest, 
prettiest of little matrons, whose rounded 
form, piquant face, and glossy brown hair 
plight pass for anything between thirty-five 
and forty, and young for that. It was not till 
such rare moments in which you could catch 
the face in absolute repose that it might 
strike a close observer that the smiling lips 
could settle thin and sinister, the eyes, 
without their sparkle, look that cold, cruel 
grey whose glint is hard as steel, pitiless as 
the nether millstone. Something of its 
glimpse Gabrielle caught as she entered, 
in the second before she spoke, rather 
effusively. 



An Odd Advertisement, 9 

** Mrs Leicester Albany, I presume. Pray, 
be seated again, for really," with a ringing 
little laugh, " you make me feel like church 
and steeple ; pardon my rudeness ; but you 
do, indeed. I always think I must look 
absurd beside you tall people." 

It was impossible to help smiling, and 
Gabrielle put up her handkerchief, apolo- 
gising. 

" Oh, don't apologise, Mrs Albany ; by- 
the-bye, didn't you think the advertisement 
a very funny one ? " 

" Say original, madam," corrected the 
woman of the world with a slight bow, 
" and we shall better name it." 

" Ha ! ha ! well, original, then ; my hus- 
band and I drew it up, for you see we 
required a rather exceptional thing ; a 
widow wouldn't do, we don't like widows, 
and a spinster wouldn't do a bit, because 
I want a lady who can chaperon my 
daughter Jessie when I cannot ; and so 
that only left us to find, if possible, some 



I o An Odd A dve rtise 7nent, 

married woman whose husband was per- 
haps in India, or who, for other considera- 
tions, you see, would part company, then 
your answer came most apropos ^ 

The lady paused for breath ; Mrs Albany's 
low, rich voice, so soft and mellow, came 
quite as a relief after those quick, high- 
pitched accents. 

" Who then, madam, is the invalid of 
whom you spoke ? " 

" Well, he is not really an invalid at all," 
apswered Lady Glen-Luna, " but he might 
be, dear boy, and it is really more on his 
account we are making this addition to our 
household, as he requires a secretary, com- 
panion, possibly a nurse — you understand — 
some one who will be kind and useful gener- 
ally. He is Sir Arthur's son — only son by 
his first wife — only I call him my boy, you 
see, because I'm so fond of him, such a fine 
young fellow ; and a year and a-half ago, 
on returning from the Continent with a 
friend, there was one of those horrible 



An Odd Advertiseme7it. i r 

railway accidents, and, in saving a man 
who was in the same carriage, my darling 
boy was seriously iujured by something 
falling across his spine, I believe ; but all 
the doctors haven't got at the exact mis- 
chief yet, though they all say he will 
recover in time, and certainly he is better, 
for he could not for a twelvemonth even 
stand, and now he can just for a few 
minutes. And being a married woman 
yourself, Mrs Albany, you would not mind 
being so much alone with my poor Douglas, 
going out with him, and all that." 

" On the contrary. Lady Glen-Luna, I 
should only be glad if I can in any way 
lighten or alleviate a misfortune doubly 
terrible to a young and active man." 

" Thank you ; well, then, Mrs Albany, it 
rests with you to accept or refuse this situa- 
tion, at one hundred pounds a year and all 
travelling expenses. I went myself on 
Saturday to your references, and am per- 
fectly satisfied, and so were your lawyers." 



12 An Odd Advertisement. 

Gabrielle half smiled. 

" If so, madam, I am. How soon do you 
wish me to join you, or follow ?" 

" I shall return to Luna Park at once ; 
here is the full direction, and if you could 
follow me in a week — " 

" In two days if you like, madam." 

" Oh no, no, that would be hard on you ; 
say Thursday, by the train leaving Pad- 
dington at twelve, and the carriage shall 
meet you." 

'A few more details were settled, and the 
two women parted, the younger certainly 
not very favourably impressed by the elder, 
and especially not impressed by a belief in 
her great affection for her stepson, Douglas 
Glen-Luna. 




CHAPTER 11. 

THE MAN WHOSE WIFE SHE WAS. 




ABRIELLE ALBANY started 
homewards as she had come, by- 
train, glad that she had some 
good news to carry back to kind little 
Mrs May. 

As she came up out of Portland Road 
Station, and struck southwards, she passed 
quickly across the head of a hansom just as 
it drew up at the station, and its occupant 
sprang out. She neither saw him nor turned, 
but the gentleman, as he paid the cabman, 
caught a full view of her as she crossed the 
road, and with a start and muttered " By 
Heaven ! what luck !" swung round sharply 



14 The Man Whose Wife She was. 

and followed her at a sufficient distance to 
keep her in view amongst the people ; the 
tall, slight figure, with its free easy grace of 
movement, was easily distinguished amongst 
hundreds. He would have known it amongst 
thousands, this handsome dashing-looking 
man, whose short thick beard and moustache 
almost entirely concealed his mouth, that 
feature on which of all others the worst pas- 
sions and a dissolute life soonest and most 
indelibly set their stamp. 

His chase was not a long one, for she 
walked fast without seeming to do so, and, 
presently turning up a quiet by street, 
paused at a door, and drew out a latch-key. 

Now was his time ; he strode forward up 
the steps and laid his hand heavily on her 
shoulder. In the moment that she heard 
the steps behind her she turned and met 
the free, bold gaze of those black eyes which 
is in itself an insult to a woman, and the 
passionate blood flushed to her brow, leav- 
ing her again deadly pale. 



The Man Whose Wife She was. 1 5 

" Leicester Albany ! " 

Only those two words under her breath ; 
neither cry nor start outwardly. 

" Ay, you didn't expect to see me, I 
guess, did you ? " said the man coolly. 
" I've been trying to €nd you out for a 
month past. I must speak to you, my dear, 
in there, unless you prefer passers by for 
listeners." 

She looked full in his face, and said, with 
a cool deliberate scorn that made even hitn 
wince, — 

" I could have hated you were it not that 
I despise you utterly ; I could curse the 
hour you ever saw me, but that the mere 
thought of such a noisome reptile as you 
is contamination. Follow me — I will give 
you ten minutes." 

She opened the door wide, and pointing 
to the parlour, drew back for him to pass 
on, followed, and carefully closed the door. 

For a minute those two stood facing each 
other in silence within arpa's-length, she 



1 6 The Man Whose Wife She was. 

steadily, unflinchingly, though the haughty 
blood mounted slowly again under the bold 
gaze of free admiration that came once 
more into Leicester Albany's eyes. 

" By the Lord ! " he said, "■ your are 
handsomer than ever, Gabrielle, and after 
two years' separation your beauty comes 
back quite fresh. I could almost play the 
r6le of lover again. One touch, ma belle, 
for auld langsyne, one kiss of those sweet 
warm lips, though you are my wife — so." 

The movement was even quicker than 
the word, for, with it on his lips, he 
threw his arms suddenly around her slight 
form, drew her forcibly to his breast, and 
stooped to take the kiss to which he had 
long lost all right. But the false lips never 
touched hers, for she started from him, 
with a low cry of horror, flinging him ofi" 
with a strength that made him even stagger. 

" Stand there ! " she said, with stern and 
haughty passion ; " if there is by chance one 
remnant of m^inhood left in you save its 



The Man whose Wife she was, 1 7 

outward form. Your wife ! — yes, God help 
me ! — so I am, because the Church Catholic, 
which made me so, rightly makes the bond 
indissoluble ; but from the hour I was 
forced to leave you, we are married only in 
name. Your presence, your touch, your 
kiss are more polluting, more degrading to 
me than that of another man, who at least 
would not have to see every vow taken at the 
altar lying in a shattered mass between us. 
Love, faith, cherish — those were your vows," 
and how did you keep them during all the 
long, heartbreaking seven years I lived with 
you, until, merciful Heaven I I was no 
longer safe with you, my husband? For 

* love ' you gave only the brief, ignoble pas- 
sion of a few months, such as you gave to 
any other mistress of the passing hour. 
For * faith ^ you wrote * infidelity,' for 

* cherish ' and * honour ' you flung me, in 
all my youth, amongst your roue com- 
panions for your own base ends, hurled me 
into every temptation ; sold your honour 

VOL. I. B 



1 8 The Man whose Wife she was. 

and mine at last to the highest bidder in 
that wild place ; and when I threw myself 
on your breast, and clung to you in frantic 
terror for protection, only laughed at his 
insult as a jest, flinging me oiF; and that 
night, when you had staked and lost all else, 
gambled me — your wife — away for a few- 
thousands to the man who had won your 
gold ! I shot him down like a dog, in self- 
defence, and escaped through untold suffer- 
ing and danger, but none, I call Heaven to 
wijbness, so deadly as the awful danger in 
which I had stood at my husband's side, 
and from my husband's hand ! This creep- 
ing, despicable reptile, whom the very 
beasts of the field and the fowls of the air 
might put to shame." 

This outraged woman's scathing, superb 
scorn was terrible, and the man shrank, and 
for a moment almost cowered, before it, as 
if he were lacerated by a hundred scorpions. 
Dastard like, he took refuge in a fierce sneer, 
when he could face her again. 



The Man whose Wife she was. 1 9 

'' Then, since the chain that binds you 
still to Leicester Albany sits so heavily, and 
perhaps you have good reasons to wish for 
freedom, eh ? — why did you not do the 
thing thoroughly while you were flying to 
law, forsooth ? " In the mere sound of 
his own voice he was regaining his bold 
effrontery once more. " You best knew 
how very easily you could have got a 
divorce, — and — could — now ! " How he 
watched her, as the w^ords dropped slowly 
from his evil lips ! "It is not too late. 
I haven't been a saint after, any more than 
I was before, you fled from my protection. 
Appeal to the law again, ma belle. I shall 
not stand in the way ; it may go by default, 
as the judicial separation did. You had it 
all your own way then, and may again for 



me." 



" Now, I see why you have been trying 
to find me this month past," said Gabrielle 
coolly, and fixing her dark eyes steadily on 
his face. " Your whole appearance plainly 



20 The Man whose Wife she was, 

tells me that at present you have plenty of 
money at command. Homburg and Monaco 
have been propitious. You are a gentleman 
so far as birth, education, society manners 
go ; in nothing else. You are still hand- 
some, and certainly, even at five-and-thirty, 
do not look the dissolute roue you are ; per- 
haps because you never drank ; that would 
have soon disordered your hand — vHest ce 
pas f With all this, you might, you think 
(correct me if I make any error in my state- 
ment) easily make some good match, an 
heiress perhaps, or a rich widow, if — ah, 
that obstinate little word ! — if it were not 
for the simple obstacle of this marriage, " 
touching her wedding ring. " Bigamy is 
such an ugly word, isn't it ? If the wife 
should chance to hear of the affair — so 
vulgar too, and ridiculous for dashing 
Leicester Albany ! You thought it would 
be far better and safer to first rid yourself 
of this obnoxious marriage and wife, who, 
despite all your kindly efforts, would not 



The Man whose Wife she was. 2 1 

be driven to exchange your * protection ' for 
that of another man. As that so signally 
failed, and as your own conduct was so 
black that no charge of wrong against her 
could have stood its ground, even if true, 
the only next move possible was to try and 
get the wife to avail herself of your miserable 
cruelty and unfaithfulness." 

" In the devil's name, then, do it, and 
free us both ! " Albany broke in, with a 
fierce passion, before which most women 
would have quailed ; but her firm lips never 
quivered, the delicate hand resting on the 
chair-back near her never shook a hair's- 
breadth, though her manner changed. 

" If," she said, bending forwards, "I be- 
lieved in this monstrous iniquity, which is 
now a living disgrace to England, this 
modern pest-house which helps to make 
such men as you, and such women as you 
would have made me, if it were really 
possible for man to break what God 
made, for any law of man to put asunder 



2 2 The Man whose Wife she was. 

»iwhat God joined together, and only God 
can loose by death — if only one word of 
mine coald set you free to wed again, I 
would not speak it, because I would not 
put it into your power to wreck another 
young life as you have mine — perhaps to 
drive another, weaker mentally and physi- 
cally than I am, into the sin from which 
I escaped by almost a miracle. For myself, 
you have taught me so terribly what a 
hell on earth marriage may be, that I have 
no wish to try it again, were I free ten 
times. As far as you are concerned, the 
law has done for me all that I want ; it 
has absolutely freed me from you, save in 
the mere fact of bearing your name, and 
being (literally only in name) your wedded 
wife. You are even liable at this moment, 
if I choose it, to arrest for contempt of 
court for forcing yourself upon me here. 
Saving that one unbreakable link of mar- 
riage, I have severed every tie, destroyed 
every vestige, every letter, or writing, or 



The Man whose Wife she was, 23 

likeness that would recall your existence 
to me." 

A sudden gleam leaped into his black 
eyes, but he only said, with a sneer, — 

" Then you had better drop my name 
since you so despise its owner ; and we 
should at least be strangers if ever or 
wherever we might meet." 

She looked straight into his eyes, and 
said steadily, deliberately, — 

" I will NOT. I am your wife ; and .1 
warn you that whatever .evil scheme you 
form I will foil you. Go ; the ten minutes 
are more than spent." 

She flung the door wide, and stepped 
back ; gathering her robe aside, stood mo- 
tionless until the street door clanged behind 
him, and then — then threw herself on the 
couch with a terrible burst of agony, as God 
send few indeed may know. 

But Leicester Albany, even in all his 
rage and disappointed fury, laughed to him- 
self as he strode away. No one had seen 



24 The Man whose Wife she was, 

him there, and she had destroyed every- 
thing that could identify him. It was only 
her word against his ! 

What was the desperate scheme that 
had flashed into his mind when that fatal 
admission was made by his unfortunate 
young wife. 





CHAPTER III. 



DOUGLAS GLEN-LUNA. 




T was with a heavy heart after 
all, and no great hopes for the 
future, that Gabrielle Albany 
parted from good Mrs May, and started 
for this somewhat odd situation, and cer- 
tainly to her, in many respects, quite new 
experience. Fortunately it was one of 
those lovely days which make everything, 
physical and mental, wear its brightest 
aspect ; and it soon had its effect on a 
mind and temperament singularly strong, 
finely balanced, and elastic and impression- 
able indeed as a Southern's. 

The railway journey took up full two 



26 Douglas Glen- Luna 

hours, which brought her into the quiet little 
station of Doring between two and three 
o'clock — a pretty little toy-like station, with 
white railings fencing it from the high road 
so exactly like the sheepfolds of a child's 
farmyard, that you almost looked for the 
inevitable brown - spotted cow, feeding 
eternally, and the brown Dobbin, and 
the yellow cat sitting on her tail, and 
nearly as big as horse and kine. Beyond 
that the silver river glinted and rippled, 
with glimpses of rich wooding and hill and 
dale. 

Did the river flow past Luna Park ? the 
traveller wondered, as she stepped on to the 
platform, and gave the provincial- speaking 
porter the description of her luggage. But 
she had no further trouble on that point ; 
for before it was well out on the platform, 
a man-servant, in a handsome livery of 
blue and silver, came out from the station, 
glanced round, and came straight up to her 
with a respectful salute. 



Douglas Glen- Luna. 27 

" I beg pardon, madam ; but are you the 
lady we are expecting at the hall ? " 

" My destination is Luna Park, certainly," 
answered Gabrielle, smiling, " and my name 
is Albany — Mrs Leicester Albany." 

" That is right, then, madam. I have 
the waggonette waiting, and will see your 
luggage safely in it, if you would kindly sit 
down a minute." 

" Thank you." 

The man touched his hat again, and wei>t 
off to the porter, who, of course, knew him 
well enough ; and Mrs Albany, giving up 
her ticket, passed outside, where stood a 
well-appointed waggonette and pair. 

A few minutes more and they drove off, 
the servant remarking that they should 
soon reach the park gates. In fact, getting 
to Doring high road, the man took a turn- 
ing which led straight on about a quarter of 
a mile up to some very handsome iron 
gates, with a pretty lodge within. Passing 
through these gates, the carriage drove on 



28 Douglas Glen- Luna, 

through a stately park, and presently came 
in view of a noble old hall, with a sweep of 
terrace facing, as Gabrielle now saw, the 
river, which flowed at the bottom of the 
grounds, and lawns surrounding the man- 
sion. The avenue of trees up which the 
carriage had come, however, led to the 
grand entrance round to the west side of 
the building, and there the servant drew up, 
and assisted Gabrielle to alight, as soon as 
the peal he gave the bell brought a footman 
to the door; then drove away with her 
luggage to another entrance, whilst she was 
shown across the wide and magnificent hall, 
along a corridor, and into what looked like 
a breakfast or morning room. 

In a few moments there was a rustle of 
silk outside, a bright, clear, if somewhat 
metallic, voice she knew, saying to some 
one, — 

" Yes, of course ; up to her rooms, and 
send my maid here," and Lady Glen-Luna 
entered. 



Douglas Glen- Luna. 29 

** I'm glad to see you again," she ex- 
claimed, in her pretty, effusive fashion, which 
most people thought so charming. " I hope 
you have had a pleasant journey, Mrs Al- 
bany ; if, indeed, such a tiresome thing as 
a railway journey can ever be pleasant." 

" I generally manage to beguile the long- 
est journey, Lady Glen-Luna," answered 
Gabrielle, amused, if not more prepossessed 
than at first, at her little ladyship. "I am, 
you see, so used to travelling in all sorts of 
odd ways and places, that nothing comes 
amiss to me." 

" Why, that is just like my dear boy 1 " 
cried the little lady, delightedly ; " he is 
just such a cosmopolitan. Oh ! you and 
he will get on capitally, Fm sure ! Your 
rooms are in the west wing, near his, for," 
laughingly, "you belong to his suite, you 
must understand, not to the general house- 
hold. Oh ! you hold a position of import- 
ance ; you are principally Douglas's secretary. 
Jessie can only have a little bit of you when 



30 Douglas Glen- Luna, 

her brother chooses to spare you. Here 
comes my maid Powell ; she will show you 
your rooms, dear Mrs Albany, and do any- 
thing you wish for you ; so ta-ta for an 
hour." 

Mrs Albany's bent head and curved lips 
thanked her with the most graceful courtesy ; 
Mrs Albany's inward cynical comment was — 
" I wonder what all this means ! It glitters 
a little too much to be all real gold ! " 

The thought, the distrust, the quick in- 
sensible suspicion of false coin somewhere 
might perhaps be a little cynical, the out- 
come even of a nature slightly seared by 
the bitterness of its w^orldly experience ; 
but, for all that, the subtle impression of 
insincerity had taken hold, and would not 
be shaken off. It had no shape ; it was 
" without form and void ; " but it had 
struck root, like the mustard seed, which is 
the smallest of seeds, and would grow day 
by day into a great tree. 

She followed Powell along corridors and 



Douglas Glen- Luna. 31 

galleries, and up this staircase and down that 
— all familiar enough to her later — until 
they emerged into a fine wide hall on the 
ground floor, opening to the grounds by a 
double door, with a lift to the floor above, 
and a wide, shallow stone staircase, also 
leading to the gallery which ran round the 
top. 

'' Now, madam, we are in the west wing,^' 
said Powell, ascending the staircase to the 
first floor, and passing on to a stately cor^ 
ridor ; "all our Mr Douglas's suite of rooms 
are here, in the left, facing the south, you 
see, ma'am, and the river ; and your apart- 
ments are on the same corridor, near the 
end, because, as my lady said, you belong to 
Mr Douglas." 

Which, in the eyes of the dependents of 
the house, was evidently a great feather in 
the cap of any so greatly honoured an 
individual. 

The maid, as she spoke, opened a door and 
ushered the new inmate of the west wing 



32 Douglas Glen-Luna, 

into a spacious and luxuriously-furnished 
sitting-room, from which an inner door 
admitted them to a large, elegantly-ap- 
pointed bed-chamber, where Gabrielle found 
that her luggage had preceded her, and a 
dainty tray with refreshments and tea 
awaited her. Powell placed an easy-chair 
at the little table, and poured out a cup of 
tea, remarking that she was sure Mrs Al- 
bany must be quite faint, and as dinner was 
not till seven, she hoped she would eat. 
Could she unpack anything ? What would 
she wear ? 

"Thank you, Powell." She did not 
know how her own beauty and winning 
voice and manner had won their way al- 
ready. ** All I want for to-day is in that 
black trunk, and this is the key; and I 
ghall take but little time dressing, as you 
see my hair is all curly by nature, only on 
to my shoulder, so that I really need not 
trouble you further." 

'* Indeed, madam, it is no trouble, but a 



Douglas Glen- Luna, 33 

pleasure, to wait on you," answered Powell, 
busy over the black trunk, from whicb she 
drew first and foremost an elegant dress of 
rich black satin, trimmed with crimson. No 
doubt, in the process of dressing, Gabrielle 
could have learned the whole history and 
doings of the family, from A to ZJ; but 
she had no inclination to hear the talk or 
gossip of the servants' hall, and only asked 
a few questions about the neighbourhood, 
the locale of the river, — of course there were* 
boats, and so on ; and, by the time she was 
ready for introduction to such members of 
the family as were indoors, the hour had 
elapsed, and a tap at the door, and Lady 
Glen-Luna's chirrupy metallic voice asked, — 

" Are you ready ? May I come in ? 
Yes ? " as Powell opened the door. 

" Ah, pardon me, my dear Mrs Albany, 
I never can stand on ceremony, you'll find, 
but how exquisite you look in that sweet 
dress ! So becoming to your style. I hope 
you like your rooms, and the piano. Well, 
VOL. I. 



34 Douglas Glen-Luna, 

as neither Jessie or Sir Arthur are in from 
riding yet, shall we go to see my poor boy ? 
I daresay he'll like to see his new secretary." 
And, sooth to say, Gabrielle Albany had a 
great longing to see this unfortunate lad, 
for whom her heart ached. There are per- 
haps few things that touch a woman so in- 
stantly and deeply as to see a young and 
vigorous man stricken down in his richest 
promise. There is no surer appeal to a 
true woman's sympathy or heart, than to be 
thrown helpless on her care. 

" I want to catch him unawares before 
we are seen," whispered Lady Glen-Luna 
merrily, as she led the way back along the 
thickly-carpeted corridor. " The anteroom 
door was open just now, and by the scent 
of flowers I am sure the inner , one is wide 
open, as well as both the windows. 
Hush ! " 

The little lady was right, and, as they 
paused beside the anteroom before the wide 
open inner door, Gabrielle had before her 



Douglas Glen- Luna, 35 

for a few minutes a vision, beautiful indeed 
to the artist's eyes, but ah, me, how painful 
to the woman's ! 

A vista of sunlight, and soft glowing 
colours of carpet and flowing silken dra- 
peries, and masses of flowers which flung 
their rich perfume over the whole luxurious 
apartment, colour and exquisite statuettes, 
and pictures, all reflected back and again 
in costly mirrors. All this the quick eye 
took in, revelling in the wealth of artistic 
beauty, noted too, the glimpse of a grand 
piano, and the light and elegant wheeled 
chair, that told its own sad tale, and turned 
with a throb of intense pain on the one 
living being within that room. There, right 
in one of the wide open bay windows, on a low 
couch, amongst a mass of crimson cushions, 
lay, not a lad's, but a man's tall slight form, 
motionless, as if both face and form had 
been those of a beautiful marble statue fresh 
from the sculptor's chisel ; the attitude, 
perfect in its easy grace, but not one of 



36 Douglas Glen- Luna, 

repose. The last movement had too evL- 
dently been one of restless weariness — one 
arm flung back above the fine head, the 
slender hand almost buried in the rich 
masses of curling burnished locks that lay 
-on the silken cushions, the head itself tossed 
back and slightly aside, with the face quite 
upturned and almost deathly pale, despite 
the light that fell full on its delicate and 
chiselled beauty. 

** Douglas," said Lady Glen -Luna advanc- 
ing, and at the sound he started, lifted him- 
self abruptly on one arm, and turned on the 
visitors a pair of dark magnificent grey eyes, 
heavily fringed by very long silky lashes, 
and how instantly the whole mobile face 
changed as that glance rested on the beauti- 
ful stranger. 

"A thousand pardons, Adeline; I thought 
I was still alone." 

A delicate accent, uttered by the softest, 

most melodious tones, a little languid, per- 

aps, with that subtle pathos which almost 



Douglas Glen- Luna, 37 

invariably underlies a very musical voice, and 
gives it, perhaps, half its power and charm. 

" I saw the doors all open, dear, so I 
thought I might dispense with ceremony, 
and at once introduce to you your new secre- 
tary and companion, Mrs Leicester Albany." 

"It is a pleasure to which I have looked 
forward all this week," said Douglas Glen- 
Luna, holding out his hand, and, as hers 
lay for a moment in that warm, firm clasp, 
oddly and suddenly the chance choice of 
expression of the lady's maid flashed vividly 
before Gabrielle's memory, — 

" Your apartments are in the same corri- 
dor, because you belong to Mr Douglas." 

" I must try not to disappoint your 
expectations then, Mr Glen-Luna," she 
said in her gentle way. 

" Nay, I hope I shall not tax your powers 
too far ! " Douglas answered, with a smile 
that lighted the handsome face like sun- 
shine. " I am afraid that the helle-mere 
has been telling some awful tales of my 



38 Douglas Glen- Luna. 

severity and exacting ways." He stretched 
out his arm as he spoke, and drew up a 
low chair. " You are standing, and as 
I see my little helle-mere is already pre- 
paring to leave us to make friends as best 
we may — Must you really go so soon, 
Adeline ? " he broke off. 

" My dearest boy, really ! don't you see 
I am not even dressed for dinner yet ; and 
so ta-ta for the present." 

The young man just touched his softly 
moustached lips to the white jewelled 
fingers she extended, and, as she tripped 
away, turned again to his new companion, 
with, she fancied, something of relief. 

" Well, then, Mrs Albany, since you are 
to be mainly domiciled in these rooms, in 
charge of such a worthless being as myself, 
I must e'en do my best to make you feel 
quite at home here, or" — with a quiet, 
earnest look of the dark grey eyes — " may 
I say to make you feel this your home ? " 

Home ! a strange word to the beautiful 



Douglas Glen- Luna. 39 

woman he addressed, a dream of the un- 
known, an horizon, a myth, never once in 
all her life a reality ; child and maiden, 
wedded wife, and worse than widowed, she 
had never known a home. 

" Thank you," she said in a low voice, that 
despite herself would quiver a little ; " I am 
sure it will be my own fault if it is not so." 

He shook his curly head slightly, and lay 
back quite silent for a few minutes ; then 
he said, without looking at her, — 

" Perhaps you will find me far more 
troublesome than you imagine, or at all bar- 
gained for. They told you at first that it 
was half for Jessie you were engaged, but now 
you see it is really entirely for my menage^ 
my behest — I, who never was patient — you 
will weary of such a restless, helpless — " 

Gabrielle's hand touched his, arresting 
the bitter, impulsive words. 

" Forgive me if I pain you, but I am 
a woman, and just because you are helpless 
and dependent you will never weary me ; 



40 Douglas Glen- Luna, 

nothing will be a trouble or too hard that 
can lighten your burthen, but only my 
deepest pleasure. I know to the full what 
I am saying, and remember I am no inex- 
perienced girl of sixteen, speaking without 
book, but a woman of five-and-twenty, 
whose whole life has been one of bitter 
trouble, and harsh, stern, dark experience. 
I say no more to you than I did to dear, 
blind, old Professor Merton, whom I lately 
served, and he was more helplessly de- 
pendent on others than, in God's mercy, 
I hope you will ever be. I have suffered 
so much, that suffering appeals to me 
beyond all else, in whatever form it comes 
before me." 

Noble words of a noble heart, and Douglas 
covered his eyes for a moment, too deeply 
touched to utter more than a low, unsteady 
" Thank you," too sharply struck by the 
utter contrast between this stranger and his 
own flesh and blood to speak. They had 
left him always to suffer alone ; this true 



Douglas Glen- Luna, 41 

woman clung to him for that very suffering's 
sake and something of what held him silent 
Gabrielle Albany read even then. But in 
a few minutes Douglas dropped his hand, 
and turned round once more with that 
sweet, bright smile of his. 

" And now we understand each other, 
Mrs Albany ; and to-morrow, may I hope 
from this hour, will date for both of us a 
brighter life ? I know it will for me. Do 
you wonder why I chose this floor for my 
suite of rooms instead of those below ? " 

" Because," she answered at once, point- 
ing out of the window, " here you get the 
full effect of that beautiful view mapped 
out ; below you would feel more shut in." 

** Ay, you take it exactly ; and, besides, 
I hate the rooms below these. They were 
the schoolrooms and playgrounds, and all 
that ; they are not used now unless, per- 
haps, they have some young fry at Christ- 
mas. Nobody inhabits this wing now but 
me and mine ; all the sleeping apartments 



42 Douglas Glen- Luna, 

in use are quite away from us. Myself and 
Harford — my man — and now yourself, are 
the only people who sleep in this west wing 
— unless there are many guests, and then a 
few of the guest - chambers are ' requisi- 
tioned ; ' so my father had that lift made 
in the hall, which easily takes my wheel- 
chair down, and all my apartments thrown 
en suite. Look — behind that curtain is the 
door (all wide for my chair or sofa) which 
opens to my dressing-room, then my sleeping 
apartment, and beyond that Harford's room." 

" Does his room open from yours, then ? " 
asked Gabrielle. 

" No ; there, opposite, those two immense 
mirrors are really sliding doors that go 
back into the wall, and open into another 
large salon, half study, half dining-room ; 
but this is my favourite room, as I suppose 
you will tell me you knew, without my 
telling you." 

*' I need not be very clever to know 
that," said Gabrielle, smiling, " or to see 



Douglas Glen-Luna, 43 

that you are a connoisseur in art, and a 
musician too." 

He laughed at that — such a rich, soft 
laugh, and answered, — 

" I can retort on all points, I think, and 
I will prove it at the first opportunity. I 
suppose I shall not see you again, though, 
this evening, after you go down to dinner % " 
This rather wistfully. 

" I will come back to you, Mr Glen-Luna, 
directly dinner is over, if you wish it." 

" No, no ; that would be selfish of me ; 
stop with them this evening. I cannot, 
must not, make you as much a prisoner as 
I am myself. Here comes Powell to fetch 
you to the drawing-room," as the lady's 
maid appeared ; " isn't it so, Powell ? " 

" Yes, sir, please, with my lady's compli- 
ments, as Sir Arthur and Miss Jessie are 
with her there now." 

" Ah, qa, then au revoir, Mrs Albany." 

*' For a couple of hours," she said, touch- 
ing his hand, and followed Powell. 



CHAPTER IV. 



VERY TENDER HEARTED. 




'ADY GLEN-LUNA met Gabrielle 
at the door of the drawing-room, 
and in her pretty unceremonious 
way introduced her to her husband and 
daughter ; the latter a second edition of 
herself on a rather large scale ; the former 
a fine, powerfully-built, hearty speaking 
man of sixty, who was happiest hunting, 
fishing, shooting, and such like, and could 
in nowise understand how his son had 
always loved and lived the life of great 
capitals, and travelling here and there and 
everywhere, instead of a country life, which 
he knew Douglas hated like poison — the 



Very Tender Hearted, 45 

fact was, society had petted and spoiled 
him. Petted its handsome, brilliant favourite 
certainly had been, but the " spoiling " had 
been beyond society's power. 

" I'm delighted to welcome you amongst 
us, Mrs Albany," said Sir Arthur, giving 
her hand such a very friendly shake, that it 
nearly wrung it off. *' I hope you had an 
agreeable journey ; — but my little wife tells 
me you are an old traveller." 

" I am indeed, Sir Arthur ; often, too, in 
regions and in a fashion that, I suppose, 
few women have experienced. Forty-eight 
hours in the saddle in the wilds of Mexico, 
with scarcely any rest, was not quite as 
comfortable as a first-class carriage." 

" How dreadful ! " exclaimed Jessie Glen- 
Luna ; " but what a rider you must be, then ! 
And were you alone ? " 

" No," said Gabrielle, and there was a 
momentary pained contraction of the brow ; 
** I was with my husband. Sir Arthur, you 
have a lovely place here." 



46 Very Tender Hearted, 

" I am glad you admire it, Mrs Albany ; 
and, since you are such a rider, we must 
give you a mount, and show you far and 
near." 

*' And I assure you," laughed Lady Glen- 
Luna, "that you have risen twenty-fold in 
Sir Arthur's estimation by the discovery of 
your equestrian powers." 

" You shouldn't tell tales out of school, 
love. My wife and Jessie, Mrs Albany, are 
very pretty riders indeed, but not as bold 
as I like ; eh, puss ? " patting his daughter's 
cheek. " Can't get them to follow hounds. 
You, I suppose — " 

*'Not me either, Sir Arthur. I like a 
wild ride, but I do not care about hunting 
or any country sports." 

*' Ah, now, what a shame ! " exclaimed 
the baronet, holding up his hands. " You 
are as bad as Douglas. You are, then, 
urban ; I am rural." 

" You are lost now, my dear Mrs Albany," 
came Lady Glen-Luna's laughing tones 



Very Tender Hearted, 47 

again. ** I suppose you have never been 
in this part of the country before ? " 

" Never, Lady Glen-Luna ; I have, in 
fact, been very little in England. I was 
born and lived in Florence till I was six 
years old — then sent by my guardian to a 
school in the west-end of London — and from 
there," she spoke in a very quiet, resolute 
matter-of-course way, " when I was just 
sixteen I married. I was abroad, out of 
England entirely for the next seven years, 
and afterwards, when I was Professor Mer- 
ton's secretary, we were constantly travelling 
on the Continent." 

" Ah, all that accounts for your accent 
being just a little bit foreign," said Sir 
Arthur, smiling. " You and Douglas will 
certainly find plenty in common, for I never 
could keep him in England much from the 
time he left college to the day he was brought 
home to our London house injured from that 
terrible accident, which was nearly two years 
ago ; he was eight-and-twenty." 



48 Very Tender Hearted, 

" There is some hope of ultimate recovery, 
is there not ? " Gabrielle asked. 

" We hope so ; the physicians all say so, 
and he is much better and stronger on the 
whole in the last twelve months, though he 
is sometimes very exhausted, I fancy ; but 
there is still something about the case which 
the Faculty haven't quite reached yet. I 
know this " — said Sir Arthur emphatically — 
" that I would give one thousand pounds 
down to any doctor who would make my 
noble boy what he was again." 

" It is too good to hope for," said Adeline 
Glen-Luna, with a gentle sigh ; and, glancing 
tenderly at her, Sir Arthur whispered to 
Gabrielle, — 

" She is such a soft-hearted little thing, 
and so fond of Douglas ; she was quite ill 
with terror and grief when he was brought 
home. It was she who suggested his having 
such a lady as yourself for a secretary and 
companion." 

"Oh, was it?" thought the secretary, 



Very Tender Hearted. 49 

with a keen covert glance at the very 
*• tender-hearted little thing." " What 
could be her motive ? " 

But she only bowed, and was spared a 
conventional lie by the announcement of 
dinner, which to-day was quite en famille. 
Conversation, however, flowed on. Gabrielle 
was brilliant, graceful, wonderfully versatile, 
always the clever, cultured woman of the 
world and travel ; to each and all she at- 
tuned herself with the winning grace of ^ 
fine nature whose very charm was its utter 
absence of the least art, or effort to win. 
But after dinner was quite over she only 
remained in the drawing-room a little while, 
and then, saying that she had promised Mr 
Glen-Luna to return, bade them adieu for that 
evening, and went back to the west wing. 

Five minutes after the door had closed, 
Lady Glen -Luna, lifting her eyes for a 
moment from her fancy work, said, — 

*' Well, dearest, and how do you like 
Madame la Secretaire ? " 

VOL. I. D 



so Very Tender Hearted, 

** The most beautiful, most charming 
woman I have ever met," said Jessie — 
then she came nearer and sat down on the 
sofa by her mother — " but, mamma, I pro- 
fess I do not understand you." 

" No ? why not, love ? " The little white 
fingers worked on complacently ; the red 
lips, ever smiling, smiled still. ''Why don't 
you understand me ? " 

" Why, you did not like papa s taking it 
into his head to want Douglas to marry 
Hyacinth Lee, and you very cleverly tried 
to get off asking her to stay here this coming 
autumn." 

** Certainly ; because I am sure that Miss 
Lee has refused two good offers in these last 
two years solely on our dear boy's account, 
and if he only asked her she would say 
*yes' to-morrow." 

*'Do you think he would, then, mamma?" 

Adeline laughed softly. 

** He might, if she comes here and is 
thrown in his way. I should hardly think, 



Very Tender Hearted, 5 1 

Jessie, that you need to be told why I do 
not want Douglas to marry Hyacinth or any 
one else." 

'* That is just it, mamma," said her 
daughter impatiently, " and yet you, your 
own self, have placed about him — flung at 
him — such a woman as this, whom you 
must see, mamma, it is impossible for any 
man to resist." 

Again that quiet, intense little laugh, and 
fleeting upward glance. ^ 

" No one knows that better than ' mam- 
ma,' most sage little would-be wiseacre ; 
but you quite forget, sweetest, that Mrs 
Leicester Albany is married — not a widow, 
but a wife." . 

" But that won't prevent any man falling 
in love with her," answered Miss Nineteenth 
Century promptly. 

" Oh no ! Oh dear, no, my love ; but 
then I really cannot undertake to guard 
the heart or morals of a man of thirty. 
And scamps like I am sure this Albany is, 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF iLLINOIS 



52 Very Tender Hearted, 

always live for ever, just because every one 
wishes them dead. Of course," Lady Glen- 
Luna turned to get the fading light full on 
her work, " it would be dreadfully wicked 
to fall in love with another man's wife. 
Oh ! very dreadful, and sad ; and he never 
could marry her, especially sad," she said 
slowly, " as if — if he did, he would never 
marry at all. Dear Douglas has his faults, 
but one of his grandest, noblest, good 
points is a heart as faithful as a woman's, 
more than most women's ! Bah I but 
why meet troubles half-way with absurd 
romantic fancies and anticipations of what 
I really have no fear of ? King for Dawson 
to light the chandeliers." 

But Jessie understood mamma a little 
better now, and set her down as a clever 
woman. 

So she was, for she knew how to reckon 
on the good as well as wrongful passions of 
the complex human heart. Tender-hearted 
little thing ! 




CHAPTER V. 



ON DANGEROUS GROUND. 



KABRIELLE ALBANY easily 
>^-^ found her way back through the 

^ :2S^W\ labyrinth of passages by whicTi 
she had come, and regained the precincts 
in which Douglas had said she was to make 
her home. 

As she reached the corridor, a tall, very 
powerfully-built man of forty, dressed in 
black, with a good-looking and most pleas- 
ing face, came out of the salon, caught 
sight of Gabrielle, and came up to her, 
with a profoundly respectful salute. 

" I beg your pardon, madam, for the 
liberty of addressing you first, but there i 



54 On Dangerous Ground, 

something which perhaps you might like 
to know of, as only us three are in this 
wing at night. I am Harford, Mr Doug- 
las's own courier. See here, Mrs Albany, 
this thick, red bell-pull, high up against the 
wall." 

" I see it ; I can reach it, being tall," she 
answered. " What is it ? what does it ring, 
Harford % " 

" An alarm bell, madam," said the man, 
a little significantly she fancied. '' It hangs 
high up on the clock tower, and if rung 
would pretty soon wake all the rest of the 
household away in the east wing, and the 
folks down in Doring too, as sure as my 
name is William Harford. It's as well to 
know all this, ma'am, that's all, when weVe 
got some one so helpless and so very precious 
as the young master to take care of." 

" It is, indeed, Harford ; thank you for 
telling me ; but what do you fear ? " — this, 
to try and get at the man's thought, if any 
definite one there was. 



On Dangerous Ground, 55 

" Well, ma'am, there might be thieves or 
fifty things in a country house, you see, 
and one can't be too much on one's guard 
in this world, ma'am, where there's so many 
wolves in sheep's clothing." 

As he said that slowly he looked up 
straight in her face, and their eyes met 
full for one moment ; his searching, anxious, 
gauging her ; hers steadfast, deep, perfectly 
reading the man's doubt and fear and 
meaning. 

So for a minute she stood, and then,- 
with a quiet, significant smile creeping over 
her firm, chiselled lips she asked a ques- 
tion. 

" Have you been long in Mr Douglas's 
service, Harford ? " 

" Ever since he came of age, madam, 
and went travelling." 

" Ah ! then I suppose you are very much 
attached to him ? " 

"Well, ma'am, I couldn't say much in 
words," said the man simply; "but there 



56 On Dange7'ous Ground, 

ain't a living being I love as I do my 
master. I can't think how anyone that's 
much with him could help it. If I may 
make so bold, ma'am, as to say so, I'm very 
glad you have come, for he won't be left 
alone now ; and he's so patient, and never 
complains neither." 

" Sir Arthur seems fond of his son," said 
Gabrielle, without directly answering the 
last remark. 

** So he is, madam ; and he most gener- 
ally sees Mr Douglas for a short time every 
day, but I think — " The man paused 
hesitatingly. 

She laid her hand — that soft, delicate, and 
singularly nervous hand of hers — on his 
arm for a moment, and looking full into his 
face, said, — 

" You may trust me, Harford, as you do 
yourself. I was a total stranger to the 
vefy existence of every one in this house 
until I answered that advertisement. I am 
a woman who has lived in the world entirely, 



On Dangerous Ground, 57 

and never liad eyes or ears or one sense 
closed, who can see when many would be 
blind, and read between the lines ; I under- 
stand you, and I think now you understand 
me. / am absolutely in your master's 
service. ^^ 

She dropped her hand and moved on 
with her light, noiseless step to the salon, 
which was now brilliantly lighted up. The 
door still stood ajar, and the moment she 
entered Douglas half lifted himself eagerly. 

" I heard your voice in the corridor ; how 
good of you to come back to me ; and I am 
sure that you must be very tired ; sit down 
in that little, low easy-chair." 

" Thank you, Mr Glen-Luna " — she drew 
the chair into the window near him and 
sat down, ** but I am not tired — not very, 
at any rate. I was speaking to your courier, 
Harford, outside." 

" I know you were. I am sure you will 
like him, Mrs Albany ; he is the best, the 
most faithful, the most unwearied of beings.'' 



58 On Dangerous Ground, 

" I am sure of that," Gabrielle answered 
quietly ; ''we have quite made friends 
already. And what a fine, powerful man 
he is." 

"Is he not ? I assure you he lifts me 
up almost as easily as if I were — a child I 
had almost said ; it is half knack, of course, 
and I am very light — always was for a 
man." 

" I should think so, for though tall you 
are so slight," said his beautiful companion, 
smiling. " Harford seems devoted to you." 

" Foi ! you must not believe the quarter 
he says of me, Mrs Albany," said Douglas, 
colouring and laughing a little. " I don't 
believe he sees a fault in my very faulty 
self; he does his best to make me the most 
vain, selfish, and spoiled of mortals." 

** I don't believe anything would make 
you that," thought Gabrielle, glancing at 
the handsome, loyal face, thrown out into 
such clear relief against the crimson cushions 
on which it lay, but aloud she said, — 



On Dangerous Ground, 59 

" I like him all the better for the grand 
old feudal feeling, so rare and so refreshing 
in these days, but I suppose he comes of 
good yeoman stock ; you, by your name, 
should be of Highland descent." 

" C'est vrai, madame, we are a very 
ancient Highland race, faithful always to 
the Stewarts. My ancestor was a younger 
son and followed James I. to England, and 
his son, in the first year of King Charles 
the Martyr, married the heiress of these 
lands. Jessie is called after her." 

" Is she ? I suppose your sister is a 
great deal with you ? " 

The magnificent grey eyes drooped. 

" Oh no, not much ; of course they have 
much visiting to do, and it is so dull for her 
up here." 

He said it quietly, but the restless move- 
ment of pain or weariness was involuntary, 
so restless that the cushions slipped uneasily. 

Before he could even run the chance of 
hurting himself, by an attempt to replace 



6o On Dangerous Ground, 

them, Gabrielle was bending over him with 
a gentle, " Let me do it," and, passing her 
arm around his shoulders, lifted him so as 
to rest against her, while she shook and 
replaced the cushions. He tried to move, 
fearful of tiring her, but suddenly the 
beautiful head sank back heavily on her 
breast, the dark eyes closed, a moan of pain 
quivering over the lips, yet one loved name 
first on them in this half unconciousness. 

" Mother ! " 

Oh, how it wrung her very heart to hear 
that name ; to see this young, strong man, 
lying on her bosom as helpless as the infant 
whose few weeks' fitful life had died out 
these years ago ! And hot tears fell on the 
statuesque face even as she bathed the 
deathly brow and lips with the eau de 
Cologne she always carried about her. 
Consciousness had never quite been lost, 
and as her soft breath fanned the fragrant 
essence on his cheek, the colour came faintly 
back, the grey eyes opened, the lips moved. 



On Dangerous Ground, 6i 

*' It is like — my mother ! I thought — 
is it?" 

" Hush ! only Gabrielle Albany." 

'* Gabrielle — is that ? Ah, it is passing 1 
Lay me back ; give me your hand." 

She laid him gently back, and kneeling 
down beside him, put her soft, firm hand 
into his, which closed round it instantly ; 
and for some minutes he lay like that, per- 
fectly still and silent. Then without loos- 
ing her hand, the large eyes opened again 
full on hers, as he spoke strongly, distinctly 
now, with an emotion he could not crush. 

" How good you are ! Forgive me ; it 
was all my fault. I forgot again, as I too 
often do, that I am not what I was. My 
movement was too reckless, too quick, for 
the spine, I suppose, and brought back 
temporarily the agony of pain I used to 
have at first. It is that no doctor has yet 
quite got at. If they could — did I speak 
just now ? Something that pained, wounded 
you, I fear ; for surely — Ah, forgive me 



62 On Dangerous Ground, 

for the tears ! I would sooner suffer any 
pain than cause pain to any woman ! " 

" Oh, hush ! it was nothing, only my own 
weakness," she said, bowing her face on the 
hand that still held hers. " You only said 
one word that — that once, for a few weeks, 
was mine — mother ! And the bitterest 
sting was that I had to thank God for 
taking it." 

Douglas made no answer in words ; but, 
if ever the clasp of loyal hand spake more 
than any lexicon or grammar, his did then, 
and forged a chain of sympathy which no 
after blow could ever have severed ; only 
presently he said softly, — 

" I thought it was my mother, for a few 
moments. Your touch, your voice are like, 
oh! so like, and — and — she died when 
I was a boy, quite a boy ! I am glad you 
are like her. I can talk to you of her, and 
take you to her grave." 

A quick, grateful look into his face, a low- 
spoken *' Thank you ! " and Gabrielle rose. 



On Dangerous Ground, 63 

" You know now," Glen-Luna added, as 
she resumed her seat at his side, ^' why I 
have never called Adeline mother ? " 

**I think I knew it before this," she 
answered softly ; and Douglas understood 
her. 

Were both not walking unconsciously on 
dangerous ground ? 




CHAPTEK VI. 



A FURTHER INSIGHT. 




HE new inmate of Luna Park was 
up early, according to her usual 
custom, and in her own elegant 
sitting-room, arranging her desk and music 
books. Of the wondrous mass of " uncon- 
sidered trifles " and useless nicknacks and 
fancy articles which ordinarily spring into 
the light and bestrew a room in the first 
five minutes after a lady's pet box is opened 
Gabrielle had none ; she cared nothing for 
such nonsense, and in her wandering, un- 
happy life had gathered about her none of 
those things that are simply in the way, to 



A Further Insight, 65 

one especially who has no headquarters. 
She had never had hearth or Lares. 

The family breakfast hour was nine ; that 
of Douglas Glen-Luna, she naturally sup- 
posed, would be later, or, at least, variable ; 
but just before eight there came a gentle 
tap at the door. 

" Come in," she said, and Harford ap- 
peared on the threshold. 

" Good morning, madam. The master 
heard you moving long ago, and sent me 
with, his compliments to ask if you woulJ 
do him the honour to breakfast with him at 
eight. He is always early." 

** I shall have great pleasure in joining 
him, Harford, if you will tell him so, with 
my compliments. How is he ? " 

" Why, Mrs Albany, more like his own 
bright, laughing self before the accident 
than I've ever seen him since it, till now. 
I wish you had been with us all along, 
ma'am; for I believe it's half fret and 
loneliness — the mental suffering, you know, 

VOL. I. E 



66 A Further Insight. 

ma'am, that has kept him back ; and of 
course, when a man is down like that, it's 
just a woman he wants about him con- 
stantly. I admit that it isn't one in a 
thousand that would suit Mr Douglas ; and 
I'm equally sure, if I may make so bold, 
ma'am, that you are just that one in the 
thousand." 

She smiled openly ; the faithful man was 
certainly " a character " — an odd mixture of 
naivete and shrewdness, with quick strong 
likes and dislikes. 

" Time alone will show that, Harford. 1 
will certainly do my best, and not lightly 
leave. Now, I will go to him." 

Harford drew deferentially back, and Mrs 
Albany passed out into the salon. It was 
empty ; but the inner doors were slid back, 
and within lay another beautiful apartment 
to which Gabrielle turned at once. 

Not on a couch yet, at any rate, but re- 
clining on that dainty light-wheeled chair, 
was handsome Douglas Glen-Luna, and his 



A Fu7'ther hisight. 67 

start and flush of pleasure was in itself an 
eloquent welcome, as she came forward and 
frankly clasped his hand. 

*' How are you this morning, Mr Glen- 
Luna ? You had no return of that terrible 
pain, I hope ? " 

" Oh, no, no ; thank you ; it was all my 
fault. How good of you to commence your 
troublesome charge so early. Mrs Albany, 
you are surely gifted with a physical strength 
much above most women, especially such a 
slight, delicately -made woman as you are."' 

*'I am so; but what makes you say so, 
Mr Glen-Luna ? " 

" Why, last evening you raised me on one 
arm, and held me so easily, so strongly 
without any effort or heave up. A weaker, 
less firm touch or hold would have much 
increased the agony." 

"It is yet one more reason," she said, 
" for me to be thankful that I am so strong. 
It has stood me in good stead many a time 
in my life." 



68 A Further Insight. 

Douglas leaned his head back against the 
cushions behind him and said, playing with 
his silky moustache as he watched her 
graceful movements, — 

" I should think you are the very coolest, 
bravest of mortals in danger." 

" Merci bien, monsieur, for your good 
opinion," she half smiled, as she put his 
coffee cup beside him ; but there was both 
pain and bitterness in that smile, for the 
dire tests to which both coolness and courage 
had been put so severely. 

Douglas noticed both, and, with graceful 
ease and courtesy, turned the subject. 

" Well," he said lightly, " I hope you will 
not need either here much, except if you 
dare to ride my fiery Arab, or drive a pair 
of blood horses in my phaeton, for I am sure 
you are great in both those lines, and fond 
of it too," he added laughingly, " for your 
eyes sparkle at the mere mention." 

" You are very quick, Mr Glen-Luna ; 
it would indeed be a pleasure, only, surely 



A Further Insight, 69 

you are jesting ! You must not take my 
powers on trust ; your own favourite horses, 
too." 

"I do not think I need be afraid, Mrs 
Albany, either for you or the horses," he 
answered, pulling the stalk off a magnifi- 
cent strawberry ; '' and I assure you I 
thereby pay you as high a compliment as 
I shall presently by begging you to try my 
piano. Of course I have neither ridden 
nor driven for eighteen months, and, saVe 
my groom to exercise him, no one but 
myself has ever mounted Hassan, my beauti- 
ful Arab. He would carry you splendidly ! 
And the chesnuts ! Would not you like 
them out this morning for a drive ? " 

" Mr Glen-Luna, I must answer you after 
the style of Queen Anne's lady, when she 
was asked the hour — ' Whatever time your 
majesty pleases !' " 

" But your tell-tale eyes betray you, 
Mrs Albany," said Douglas wickedly ; and 
Gabrielle laughed. 



70 A Further Insight. 

** Yours are far too keen ; I must veil 
mine, I see, when I answer you. I sup- 
pose you drive out every day ? " 

'• No," he said, shaking his curly head. " I 
have not done so ; it was miserable, lonely, 
dull work — and — and I shrank horribly 
from meeting any one I had known ; I have 
tried to shut away the outward world." 

How perfectly she understood the man's 
feeling, how her woman's heart ached for 
him, and swelled with passionate resentment 
against the sister, at least, who should have 
made his life so different. How could they ! 
oh, how could they so cruelly neglect one 
so gentle, so suffering, so helpless ? The 
indignant cry had almost risen to her lips, 
but she crushed it, and laid her hand on 
his, with a touch that came like a tender, 
exquisitely sympathetic touch on a delicate 
musical instrument. 

" You have let yourself grow morbid," 
she said very gently, " but I must change 
all that now." 



A Further Insight. 7 1 

" Now I' Douglas repeated, " it is all 
changed already ; driving out, going in 
the park with you will be a pleasure, a 
relief. These very rooms look different 
to-day ! They have been a prison. I had 
grown so weary, oh, so weary of every- 
thing ; I could not read for ever, reader as 
I am ; the mind wants, craves for com- 
panionship, a kindred mind, even in the 
blessed world of books. I could not even 
write half as much as my thoughts flowed, 
for they will not let me sit up for long at 
a time, and then I grew sick of my own 
presence. Jessie and her mother, no doubt, 
have so many claims, far more than mine, 
upon their time ; and little Jessie, too, is 
young and gay, and naturally likes society ; 
my dull rooms could only be a prison to her, 
and besides, my pursuits and favourites of 
art and literature are not hers. I should 
only bewilder and weary her, and she — 
well, it is my fault, I know — she would 
fret and jar every chord ; it is wrong in 



72 A Further Insight, 

me to be absurdly sensitive and morbid, 
but — but — Ah, forgive me, dear Mrs Albany, 
for making such a father confessor of you ; 
it seems as if I had known you for years 
instead of hours." 

'' Thank you." 

She turned aside a moment in silence, 
masking a deep emotion which is far more 
easily stirred in those that have suffered 
much than in those whose lives have been 
comparatively free from trial. Those who 
have wept for their own dead can more 
readily weep for another's dead. 

His noble self-abnegation, the very gener- 
osity and utter unselfishness of his attempt 
to shield his sister and stepmother, only 
unconsciously laid yet more bare to Gabri- 
elle their selfishness and neglect, over 
which they threw the veil of words, as 
flimsy to her as to their object, however 
he might try to gloss it over to himself 
and others. 

*' Say to me what you will," she said after 



A Further Insight, 73 

that pause. " I shall not misunderstand 
you, or — " 

She bit her lip as the word " them " rose, 
and added " others." 

When the servant came to remove the 
breakfast equipage, his master gave the 
order for his park phaeton and chesnut 
pair to be ready at ten. 

" The blood horses, sir, what you have 
out in the carriage ? " asked the man. 

" Yes, Mrs Albany will drive therf ; 
and tell Harford to be in attendance on 
horseback, for " — he added, turning to 
Gabrielle with a smile — *' though I would 
not care, I suppose you would not like 
the responsibility of both horses and 
master, at least until you are used to 
them." 

" Thank you for your consideration, Mr 
Glen-Luna ; certainly a pair of spirited 
horses are not like quiet park ponies, and 
the charge is far too precious to be risked to 
the least chance of an accident. Now, shall 



74 ^ Further Insight. 

I wheel you into your favourite window 
in the next room ? " 

" You shall do nothing so — " 

" Very easily accomplished," said his 
autocratic attendant, putting her hand on 
the handle of the light, silent, wheeled 
chair, and pushing it, with hardly more 
than a touch, into the salon, bringing it to 
anchor near his sofa. 

" Fairly run away with," said he, laugh- 
ingly, looking up in her face, " but needs 
must when beauty drives. I am afraid, 
Mrs Leicester Albany, that you have a will 
of your own, and really intend to make me 
feel its power." 

" Quite right, Mr Douglas Glen-Luna, 
for I see there is much reformation needed 
in you, and there is nothing like — " 

" Training up a child in the way it should 
go," said he, laying his head contentedly 
back. " Faith, fair autocrat, I have no ob- 
jection to your rule — to fetters of gold and 
flowers." 



A Further Insight. 75 

'' But the gold of the fetters is alloyed 
with harder, baser metal, and the flowers 
have thorns sometimes." 

" You can't frighten me, Mrs Albany ; 
I don't think there is much of the ' baser 
metal ' or thorns either about you." 

As he spoke, a step came along the gal- 
lery, a tap at the door, and Jessie, looking 
wonderfully pretty in her light muslin, 
came in. 

" Good morning, Douglas ; and how afe 
you, Mrs Albany ? Breakfast is on table." 

" Thank you, Miss Glen-Luna ; but, as 
I am an early riser, your brother kindly 
asked me to join him. We are going to 
drive out almost directly." 

" Are you ? I am so glad," said Jessie, 
so exactly with her mother's manner, that 
Gabrielle could well have boxed her ears. 
" We never could get him out much, though 
the doctors all said he ought to. Naughty 
Douglas ! By-the-bye, dear, it's quite true 
that Mr Parker has given up his practice 



76 A Further Insight, 

in Doring for the present, on account of his 
health, and another gentleman has come to 
his house and place." 

" Indeed ! you chattering puss ; some 
fascinating young fellow, I suppose, for you 
girls to flirt with, eh ? " laughed Douglas. 

" Isn t he impudent, Mrs Albany? Well, 
to be sure, they say he is handsome, very 
clever, and — " 

" Very old," put in Glen-Luna. 

" No, sir ; only about thirty-five." 

" Dear creature ; and what is the name 
belonging to this interesting biped — 
Brown ? " 

" You are a goose, Douglas ! Brown, 
indeed ! It's Dr Chandos Neville. We 
shall see him, of course, on Sunday, at 
church." 

" Perhaps he's an infidel, my dear ; sure 
to have funny notions if he's at all scientific 
or philosophic," declared Douglas, ofi" hand, 
"or at five - and - thirty, of course, he's 
married — horrible idea ! " 



A Further Insight, 77 

*' Oh no ; he's not," said Jessie promptly, 
and Douglas fairly burst out laughing. 

" Ma foi, you took care to ask that, then, 
ma'amselle." 

" Oh ! Mrs Albany may flirt with him," 
laughed Jessie ; " she has had more ex- 
perience than I have, I daresay, being 
married." 

" Your feminine tongue runs too fast, 
little Jessie," said Glen-Luna, as his quick 
glance saw Leicester Albany's wife shiver. 
" Eun away to your breakfast, child, or 
father will be vexed." 

" Ta-ta, then," cried Jessie, and vanished, 
just as Harford came in to announce the 
phaeton. 





chesnut 
liarness- 



CHAPTER VII. 

A DRIVE. 

OUGLAS GLEN-LUNA'S exqui- 
sitely-appointed equipage — the 
elegant phaeton, the magnificent 
horses, in their glittering silver 
-might well have been the admira- 
tion and envy of the country. 

The wheeled chair was standing empty 
in the hall, and its owner already in the 
phaeton, when Gabrielle, in her graceful 
plumed hat, and drawing on her riding 
gloves, came out. 

'' Oh, they are beauties, indeed ! " she 
exclaimed, patting the arching neck of the 
one nearest her, and the noble animal tossed 



A Drive. 79 

his head, trammelled by no cruel bearing 
rein, and turning his great lustrous eyes on 
her, perfectly aware not only of the caress, 
but of the admiration. 

Ah, how can any one ill-treat those noble, 
faithful friends of man — horses and dogs ! 
The groom at the head looked as proud 
as a peacock, and Douglas's smile was full 
of pleasure. 

" I think you will hardly know what to 
say to Hassan, Mrs Albany, or my collie 
dog, whom I hope to have back from the 
veterinary surgeon ; he cut his foot the 
other day, poor dog ! Of course you are 
fond of dogs ? " 

" Very, very fond of them," she answered, 
as she stepped in and gathered up the 
ribbons ; and then Harford mounted, the 
groom stepped back, and the whole equi- 
page swept off in splendid style down the 
stately avenue up which she had come the 
day before, Harford riding a little distance 
ahead. 



8o A Drive. 

" I want to see Doring," said the fair 
driver ; " it is a very picturesque little 
town, is it not ? " 

" Very ; but — you are not going to drive 
right through Doring ? " He winced visibly 
at the thought. 

** If you will not forbid me, Mr Douglas. 
I want to break the cordon of morbidness 
that has been drawn round you ; and, be- 
lieve me, the ordeal will not be so terrible 
as it looks. Will you trust me ? " 

What man — least of all, the chivalrous 
Glen-Luna — could have resisted those beau- 
tiful eyes, that soft, pleading voice ? 

" How could I possibly say you nay ? " 
he said. " I am always a ready slave to 
beauty's wishes. Forgive me, dear Mrs 
Albany, if I say all sorts of pretty things to 
you, for it's second nature ; and if you 
only knew how dreadful it is not to 
have any one to say them to for eighteen 
months ! " 

It was said with such whimsical energy 



A Drive, 8i 

that Gabrielle rippled into an irresistibly 
amused laugh. 

" If that is such a grievance, pray make all 
the pretty speeches that come to your ready 
tongue, and I'll try to devoutly believe them 
real — shall I ? I wonder how many compli- 
ments you have uttered in your life ? " 

" Oh, ma foi ! — thousands, of course," said 
he coolly, opening his great dark eyes wide 
at her ; " a fellow must, you know." 

** Yraiment, monsieur ! — so many, I sup- 
pose, 

* That neither history nor song 
Can count them all.' 

Ah, the river ! How beautiful, how tempt- 
ing it looks in this glorious sunshine ! " 

" Would you like to drive back round to 
the boathouse, and have out the steam 
launch ? " said Douglas at once. 

" Oh no, thank you ; not now. Is that 
the outskirt of Doring just ahead ? " 

She pointed her right hand to some 
dainty picturesque houses, evidently belong- 

VOL. I. F 



&2 A Drive. 

ing to well-to-do people, bedded amongst 
trees and gardens giving on to the road. 

" Yes ; and do you see that pretty white 
house, covered with clinging roses, and a 
tiny verandah ? " 

" Yes." In fact, the horses' heads were 
almost alongside the gates. " Whose is it ? " 

" It was old Mr Parker's, the principal 
doctor in Doring," Glen-Luna answered ; 
**but, if Jessie is right, this new man, 
Dr Chandos Neville, has just domiciled 
himself there. Look — there is a lady in 
the garden." 

As the phaeton passed, the lady turned 
and saw it, and its very striking occupants. 

" What a sweet - looking woman," said 
Gabrielle. " I wonder who she is ? She 
looks about fifty, but she cannot be the 
doctor's mother ; she looks so plainly a 
maiden lady. I should like — " 

"Go on ; tell me what ? " said Douglas, 
glancing at the picturesque beauty of the 
woman at his side. 



A Drive, 83 

** Forgive me ; I was forgetting." 

** What ? That you are to say to me 
whatever you please ? '* 

" Ah, no ! not that ; you are too kind, 
I was only going to say that 1 should like 
to know that lady, whoever she is." 

*' Perhaps she returned the compliment," 
said Glen-Luna. 

She flushed for a moment, and then said, 
with a cynical bitterness, the more intense 
from its quietness, " She will not if, or 
when, she knows what I am. Women are 
merciless on a wife separated from her 
husband ; it is always her fault." 

" I am afraid you are right in the main ; 
but," he said, with a flash in the grey eyes, 
" no one had better say so to me." 

" Why not ? " she said quickly, with the 
same ring of intensely bitter pain in her 
low, mellow tones. " After all, what do you 
know of me or my past life, but what has 
come from myself ? " 

*' Nothing, certainly," was the quiet an- 



84 A Drive, 

swer; "neither do I wish or care to know 
anything from any other source. And of 
yourself I judge for myself. I have never 
yet been deceived, and I am not now." 

The deep grey eyes were looking dreamily 
out before him as he said that, as if they 
saw afar off, into that past life to which she 
had alluded — into the untold misery and 
cruel wrongs that had so terribly embittered, 
perhaps well-nigh wrecked, her young life. 
She made no answer for some minutes ; but 
the firm hand on the reins shook for a 
minute, and the sensitive lips quivered, as 
she said, half under her breath, — 

*' But you are a man, and, pardon me, 
your very chivalry of gentleman makes you 
too lenient to a woman." 

*'Nay, I think a man can never be too 
lenient to a woman, Mrs Albany." 

Her breast heaved, and her eyes filled, 
but she said nothing, — she dared not, he 
saw ; and presently, with her exquisite 
womanly tact, turned the subject, as, fol- 



A Drive, 85 

lowing Harford ahead, she turned her horses 
into Doring High Street, a wide irregular 
mixture of shops and houses. Of course, 
heads went round, or looked out of win- 
dows, and tongues wagged quickly enough 
as the " young master " and his singular 
companion drove past — he for the first time 
since his accident, — and plentiful food was 
gathered in for that queer meal which the 
good ladies of a country town fondly 
imagine is " five o'clock." ♦ 

Talking now, and laughing too, in good- 
natured amusement at " countryisms," the 
two town-bred occupants of the carriage 
drove on right through the market-place, 
and so away again into the open country, 
with ever-changing views of " hill and wold 
and river," at every turn of the road, till at 
length, on the summit of a hill, they could 
see Luna Park, with its rich woods and 
winding river, miles away behind them. 

" How the road narrows here," Gabrielle 
remarked presently. " It would be quite 



S6 A Drive. 

impossible for two vehicles to pass here, 
would it not ? If one came round that turn 
ahead." 

Douglas's answer was a laugh, and a hand 
pointing ahead as, round that very turn, 
came a dashing horse and trap, driven by a 
gentleman, with a page at his side. 

All saw the situation in a moment. Har- 
ford stopped short. Mrs Albany drew up 
her spirited horses splendidly, and the 
gentleman, pulling up sharply, sprang to 
the ground and came up to the phaeton, 
lifting his hat to the handsome and very 
distingue looking occupants. 

" I really must beg pardon," he began, 
and then the ludicrousness of the contre- 
temps was irresistible. All three broke 
into a laugh, and even Harford gave vent 
to a respectfully smothered, decorous little 
sound. 

" * A regular fix,' " said Glen-Luna ; then, 
slightly raising himself from his half- 
reclining position amongst the cushions, 



A Drive. ^7 

'' what is to be done ? There is no siding 
for a long way, I think." 

" I will back my trap to a gate just round 
the turn," said the stranger. " I am so sorry 
to keep a lady waiting." 

" Pray, do not mention it," she answered, 
smiling ; '' it will give the horses a rest." 

" You are very kind to put it so, madam, 
said the stranger, glancing at the beautiful 
face as he stepped back. " I will be as 
quick as possible." 

But Harford, who had dismounted, seeing 
that Gabrielle had the horses well in hand, 
threw his bridle over a bush bough in the 
hedge, and turned, touching his hat. 

" I will help you, sir, if you will allow 

me." 

''Thank you, very much; but perhaps 

your master and mistress — " 

Douglas's musical tones struck pleasantly 

across, — 

*' Will both be pleased for you to accept 
assistance in such a troublesome job. My 



88 A Drive, 

horses are quite safe," — adding, with, an 
amused smile to Gabrielle, as the two 
men went off, — 

" Handsome fellow, and looks clever. I 
wonder if he is the new doctor Jessie so 
recommended to your powers of captiva- 
tion ? Don't you feel tempted to try, Mrs 
Albany?" 

She laughed, and answered lightly, with 
her expressive foreign shrug, — 

" Ma foi, monsieur, I will not interfere 
with Jessie's fun." 

" You certainly would prove a dangerous 
rival ; I'm afraid little Jessie would not 
have a chance, pretty as she is." 

" Why not ? Some people prefer daisies 
and buttercups to exotics." 

" Yes ; some men do." 

Clearly the speaker was not one of 
them. 

** There is a frightful lot of humbug 
talked sometimes about it," he added. 
*' Wild flowers are all very well in their 



A Drive. 89 

place, but after all, they cannot compare to 
their cultivated brethren any more than 
their two prototypes in human nature can 
bear it. Why the wild flower should be 
more ' innocent ' than the rarest black rose 
or richest tropic beauty of culture's own 
rearing, or the taste for the first be more 
pure than the love of the last I cannot see. 
God made them both. It is exactly the 
same cant as the school which talks of the 
desperate vice of town and the sweet inno- 
cence of the country. Bah ! They should 
say ' ignorance ' instead. I have not been 
a saint any more than my neighbours ; IVe 
knocked about half over the world — in towns 
and out of towns — and seen enough of the 
wickedness of both, and I never could find 
out that in any one way the cities were 
greater sinners ; rather the other way, for 
country vice is coarse and ignorant, its crime 
both stupid and brutal — extra counts against 
the ' innocent purity' of rurality, I think." 
" I thoroughly go with you, Mr Douglas, 



90 A Drive, 

botli in opinion and experience, and mine 
has given me right enough to know." She 
added that half to herself with a smothered 
sigh, then looked up with a restless move- 
ment and a little laugh. " But how oddly 
we have strayed from Jessie and our stranger. 
Here comes Harford." 

The courier came up, saluting. 

" It's all right now, madam, if you'll please 
drive on slow and keep the off side of the 
road as much as you can." 

He loosed his own horse, mounted, and 
rode forward, the carriage following to where 
the gentleman's trap stood, crushed close to 
a gate in the hedge, so as just to allow 
room, with care, for the phaeton to pass. 

Courteous thanks and adieux were ex- 
changed, and the two parties each went on 
their opposite ways. 

" I believe I guess who that young fellow 
is," muttered the stranger, looking after the 
retreating carriage. I've heard of him 
already. What a cruel thing that such 



A Drive. 



91 



strength and perfect beauty should be laid 
low. It can't be hopeless. I wish I had 
charge of him, by heaven, if he were too 
poor to pay a pound ! I do, as sure as my 
name is Chandos Neville ! " 




CHAPTEE VIIL 



ITS NO BUSINESS OF MINE. 




EEMEMBER once hearing re- 
cited a very clever serio-comic 
piece in verse, setting forth the 
manner in which a pair of country ladies, 
over their " dish " of tea, began by pick- 
ing holes in the bonnet of a certain neigh- 
bour, and ended by entirely taking away 
her character. 

1 think that all these sort of coteries were 
invented by Lucifer as a happy thought to 
fill up all the odd corners of wickedness, 
just as the German toy makers, in packing 
their exporting boxes, fill up all the spaces 
and corners with those fascinating carved- 



I£s no Business of Mine, 93 

wood animals made by the children of the 
Black Forest, which we all remember as the 
delight of our childish days. 

Look at that coterie of Doring ladies, 
seated over afternoon tea — one can hardly 
call it by the fashionable name of " five 
o'clock " — on the pretty lawn of Mrs Win- 
stanley's house, not far from the new 
doctor's residence. None of these fair ones 
were on visiting terms at the Hall, of 
course, but some happy few of them, the 
hostess for one, enjoyed the honour of a 
bowing acquaintance with " that sweet 
little thing," Lady Glen-Luna, who will 
often, if she meets them about, or sees 
them at their gate, stop her pony chair, 
and have a chat, when there is anything 
she wants passed about. But this is be- 
tween ourselves ; when she didn't care for 
that, the bright metallic treble would only 
cry out cheerily : " Ah, how do, dear Miss 
Chataway ? how's the school ? such a hurry, 
ta, ta." 



94 I^'s "^0 Business of Mine, 

But to-day, only about two hours after 
that carriage had driven through the little 
town, both my lady and her daughter 
had been seen to stop Mrs Winstanley in 
the market-place, and talk to her " for ever 
so long," no doubt all about this new inmate 
of the Hall, about whom all the tongues had 
wagged and surmised already, on such in- 
formation as could be obtained from the 
back stairs. 

" Saw them, my dear?" said Miss Chat- 
away, pursing up her lips, " of course I did, 
though he's never been out beyond the park 
before I believe, and yet, here, the very 
second day this ^ secretary ' forsooth, comes^ 
there they are right through the town, she 
driving, an' it please you, — nothing less than 
his own favourite blood horses will suit 
madam ; these foreigners are so impudent." 

" Is she foreign ? " asked another lady, 
setting down her tiny teacup. 

" She looks it, and has all that sort of 
manner, you know. My dear, depend upon 



Ifs no Business of Mine, 95 

it, she's no stranger to monsieur, it's some 
one he's known abroad." 

" I daresay you are right, Miss Chataway. 
I don't believe young Glen-Luna was a 
saint," put in Mrs Orde, the wife of the 
rival doctor to Mr Parker, who had never 
been sent for to the Hall, "and I think 
that her ladyship must be very — ahem ! — 
innocent to allow such a dashing, handsome 
girl-" 

Here Mrs Winstanley, big with superior 
knowledge, turned round. 

" My dear Mrs Orde, she is not so young 
as she looks; Mrs Leicester Albany has 
been married these nine years, ran away at 
sixteen, and had to get a separation two 
years ago. Lady Glen-Luna told me so 
herself." 

" Hum," said the doctor's wife, " I sup- 
pose, then, the truth is that she is a 
divorcee. It's nonsense to pretend that any 
woman who was at all particular would go 
as secretary, or anything else, to a single 



96 It' s no Business of Mine. 

man. And if she is separated from her 
husband, depend upon it, it was her fault," 
Mrs Winstanley rejoined loftily. 

" Dear Lady Glen-Luna quite knows what 
she is about, and, of course, would never 
have engaged a lady without — what she 
had — the highest references. Why," ad- 
dressing another friend, " Mrs Albany was 
secretary and travelling companion to the 
late Professor Merton." 

" Eeally," returned her friend, wisely, 
trying to look as if she knew perfectly well 
who Professor Merton was, " was she in- 
deed? And he was — yes, of course — I 
see—" 

" He was blind, you know ; so clever," 
added Mrs Winstanley, who hadn't even 
heard the professor's name until that day, 
— ** and thought very highly of the lady." 

*' Well, we shall see," said Miss Chataway 
sagaciously, *'I don't like your separated 
wives. If matters go so far as that, why 
not have got a divorce at once and have 



It's no Business of Mine. 97 

done with it ? It only looks as if she dared 
not ! Don't it, Mrs Orde ? " 

" So I think, my dear, and my cook, who 
is cousin to the lodge-keeper at the park, 
told me that the family are going as usual 
for a month to London (Sir Arthur can*t 
bear London longer), and, of course, this 
Mrs Albany will be left here with Mr Glen- 
Luna." 

" Well, he must have some one, you 
see ; and he's really an invalid, and she's 
a married woman," said Mrs Winstan- 
.ley, sipping her tea, " and she's been in 
California, and is Bohemian, and doesn't 
care for these more civilised ideas, I sup- 
pose. It's not my business; and what 
sweet Lady Glen-Luna don't mind, I don't, 
I'm sure." 

" I wonder she likes the responsibility of 
having such a charge when they're all 
away," said Mrs Orde viciously ; and Mrs 
Winstanley replied urbanely, — 

" Oh, but if he is taken ill, I daresay she 

VOL. I. Q 



98 It's no Business of Mine. 

would send down at once for Dr Neville. 
Are you going already ? " 

Of course she was ; that last poke from 
the rival leader in the very innocent faction 
of the rural town was too much ; and so 
Mrs Doctor Orde took leave, and the party 
soon after broke up, leaving Mrs Leicester 
Albany's name much in the position of snow 
just after very dirty hands have touched 
it. It was well, and very natural, that the 
woman who had suffered such danger to 
honour itself was so superbly indifferent to 
the petty gossip and scandal which bandied 
her name, but could not touch herself. Poor 
young thing ! 





CHAPTER IX. 



A VERY STRANGE ACCIDENT. 




|0 that is your adventure this 
morning, is it, brother mine*? 
I saw them, too, pass here — 
the young lady driving." 

A sweet gentle voice, that surely never 
spoke harshly of man, woman, or child ; 
a broad, fair brow, and soft brown eyes, 
that could smile with the merry, or weep 
with the sorrowful, knowing what sorrow 
was ; a white gentle hand, that had never 
drawn her robe from a fallen sister's touch, 
but rather been stretched out to save her ; 
with quiet movements and noiseless gar- 
ments, and silky tresses streaked with silver 



lOO A very Strange Accident, 

threads, coiled round the shapely head ; 
and lips that only knew how to soothe 
and comfort — that was Rose Neville, of 
whom Leicester Albany's unhappy wife 
had said that day, — " I should like to 
know her," — Chandos Neville's only and 
elder sister ; so much older, indeed, for 
he was but five-and-thirty, that she had 
been sister and mother in one. 

" Poor young fellow 1 " she added, sigh- 
ing ; " it made my heart ache to see him. 
I guessed it could only be Sir Arthur Glen- 
Luna's son, of whom we have heard, and 
his sister ? " 

" No, dear," Dr Neville answered ; "for I 
actually asked, on my way home. She is 
a lady who has just come to be his secre- 
tary. She is married, they tell me ; but 
separated from her husband." 

" Poor young thing ! " said pitying Rose ; 
" it is a very painful and sad position for a 
woman so young and beautiful to be placed 
in. Not free, and yet utterly unprotected." 



A very Strange Accident, loi 

" I think the fellow who could be cruel 
to such a beautiful wife ought to be 
hanged ! " said Chandos vigorously. 

" Hush ! dear boy," reproved Eose, smil- 
ing ; " and did not Mr Parker or some 
one tell you that the young man was 
injured in a railway accident ? " 

"Ay ! in saving a fellow passenger. 
Eose—" 

" Well, dear ? " 

" Why, I wish etiquette was at Jericht), 
for I would give anything to try my 
hand with that young fellow ! The old 
stationmaster has just been telling me 
about him. He says they've had all the 
crack physicians and surgeons — of course 
they have — but no one has got him be- 
yond his present point ; there is some- 
thing in fault no one has yet reached, 
he says. Don't laugh at me, Eose ; but 
I believe I'd find it out. I would take 
him in hand for nothing, if they'd let 
me ; and if — well, of course, it's impos- 



102 A very Strange Accident. 

sible, you know ; and no doubt he's under 
the care of some big fish." 

" I wish you could get the chance to try 
your skill, my dear. You are clever in all 
branches of your noble work ; but if you 
have a specialite, it is with spinal com- 
plaints. And I sometimes think, in your 
and many other callings, the younger blood 
brings fresher knowledge and bolder moves ; 
less in a groove.'' 

" Just so, Kose. Now, I suspect, for one 
thing, that young Glen-Luna has been kept 
too everlastingly reclining — reclining till he 
is worn and wearied to death, and the whole 
general health sinks and gradually gives 
way. He is colourless as a marble statue, 
and as delicately chiselled. He is a very 
slight-built man, I could see ; but it's more 
than that. He is wasted ; his features, his 
hands are as delicate as a woman's. Cut 
down like that at thirty ! Heaven ! it 
must be killing the man by inches ! Eose, 
if I could have him for a patient, I 



A very Strange Accident, 103 

would stake my whole reputation on this 
case." 

" Darling Chandos ! how your enthusiasm 
does me good to see ! " said Eose, kiss- 
ing the broad clear brow so like her own. 
" Surely your noble wish will be granted in 
some way." 

" I don't know." He got up and 
began pacing to and fro the long room ; 
for it was after dinner, and they were 
in the drawing-room. " We seldom get 
our wishes, I think. Bah ! " said he, 
ruffling up his curly locks impatiently. 
" I'm a great fool, Kose. I cannot get 
that man's face or voice out of my 
head." 

" Don't try, Chandos," said Miss Neville, 
with a quiet smile, as her eyes rested on the 
handsome, earnest face of the physician ; 
" for you are far too tender-hearted ever to 
grow callous or fail to feel, even suffer, in 
others' sufferings." 

** I daresay you are right, Kose ; you 



I04 A very Strange Accident. 

always are, dear. Ha ! what's that ? What 
a peal at the bell ! " 

So there was, and some vehicle had 
stopped at the gate. The next moment 
a man's voice at the door asked quickly if 
Dr Neville was at home. 

Chandos stepped out into the hall at 
once, Eose behind him, catching a glimpse 
over his shoulder of a groom in dark blue 
and silver livery. 

*' I am Dr Neville. Who wants me ? " 

"Mrs Albany, sir, up at Luna Hall, sent 
me off with a trap to fetch you back to Mr 
Glen-Luna. There was an accident with 
the lift, just at the top, and the master 
hurt. It would have been a much worse 
jerk, sir, only Mrs Albany was beside his 
chair on the lift, and the moment some- 
thing broke, and it ran up too quick, she 
throwed one arm round his shoulder to save 
him from the danger, and with the other 
caught the gallery rail, sir. Then she and 
Harford got the chair off, and lifted the 



A very Strange Accident. 105 

master on to a sofa in his dressing-room ; 
and then he swooned dead o£f, sir, with the 
pain, for it shook him, you see, terrible. 
Mrs Albany just looked at me, and says, 
' Fetch Dr Neville, Marston.' " 

" I'll join you directly." 

He vanished into his little surgery at the 
back for a few moments, and came back 
with a small valise. 

"' Good-bye, sister Eose. I am ready, 
Marston." 

Chandos Neville only asked a few ques- 
tions on the short drive. 

" Where were Sir Arthur and the ladies ? " 

The groom answered that they had gone 
over to dine at Colonel Eosslyn's place, 
some ten miles off, and were not even ex- 
pected back that night. 

" You see, sir, it was like this," explained 
Marston, who was Douglas's own groom. 
" In the evening Mr Douglas and Mrs 
Albany (that is his new secretary) was out 
in the gardens, she pushing the chair, and 



To6 A very Strange Accident, 

they came round to the stables, 'cause, sir, 
he wanted to show her his Arab, Hassan, 
that she's to ride. Well, sir, after they'd 
gone back to the west wing, where his 
rooms and hers are, you know, I picked up 
a beautiful gold brooch I had noticed in her 
lace kerchief. So I just took it round myself 
to give her, and when I stepped into the 
west hall door, there was Harford at the top 
working up the lift, and they in it. I ran up 
the stairs, and had got up beside Harford 
(that's Mr Douglas's courier, sir), when the 
lift came half way to the level, and then 
something below gave way, as I said, and 
up it ran awful. It's a good chance I was 
there, too, because I took the gear from Har- 
ford and held the lift as Mrs Albany stopped 
it, and Harford helped Mrs Albany — who is, 
sir, the greatest brick ! " said the groom en- 
thusiastically, " if you'll pardon me. Most 
women would ha' screamed, and never held 
him as she did ; but though she went as 
white as death — for I'm sure in that hor- 



A very Strange Accident. 107 

rible minute we all thought the whole thing 
was going to rush up and smash them both 
to death — she never moved a muscle or 
flinched one hair's-breadth. And strong — 
Lord, sir, she is wonderful nerve and strength 
for a woman ! To see how she gripped the 
chair ! And I verily believe that if Will 
Harford hadn't been there, she'd ha' man- 
aged to lift him on to the sofa all herself." 

"■ She looks that sort of brave woman," 
said the physician. " I met them ^ut 
this morniug. Ah, here we are, thank 
Heaven ! " 

Another servant was at the open west 
wing door, under orders, on the look-out, 
and at once conducted the welcome, anxiously 
looked-for visitant up to the floor above, 
and to the door of the salon, where Harford, 
hearing steps, met them, with a glad look 
of recognition and deep-breathed " Thank 
God! you're come, sir!" 

And he led him into the elegant dressing- 
room. There, on a wide, low couch, lay 



io8 A very Strange Accident. 

that graceful form, the beautiful head lying 
on Gabrielle's left arm, as she knelt beside 
him, her own firm, steadfast face scarcely- 
less deathly than the one over which she 
bent, as she kept softly passing the right 
hand, wet with fragrant eau de Cologne, over 
temples and brow and round the lips, wetting 
even the silky moustache that shaded them. 

" An invaluable nurse, I can see ! " said 
the relieved doctor, stooping down to listen 
to the sufferer s breathing. " Has he re- 
vived or spoken at all, Mrs Albany ? " 

•' We got him round a little after the 
first painful agony had done its work," she 
answered quietly ; " but he was not fully 
conscious, for the only word he spoke audibly 
showed that he took me for his own dead 
mother. Then he relapsed again, I think 
from sheer exhaustion. His teeth were 
set, his hands clenched with agony, when 
he swooned. I don't think he is entirely 
unconscious." 

The physician took up one of those slender 



A very Strange Accident. 109 

hands in his own soft palm, and laid one 
finger on the wrist ; then shook his head, 
and turned to his valise. 

" Yes," he said ; " we must get back full 
consciousness before I can see what mischief 
is done. A little water in that small wine 
glass, please, Harford." 

Harford obeyed gladly, and held the glass 
for Neville, while he produced a vial from 
his case, and dropped some of its contents 
into the water." ^ 

" Thanks ! Kaise his head higher, please, 
Mrs Albany." 

She simply lifted it from her arm to her 
bosom. 

" Try if he knows your voice enough to 
drink this." 

In the same quiet way, like one resolutely 
suppressing intense feeling, she took the 
glass and held it to the bloodless lips, 
bending her head lower as she deliber- 
ately made use of the illusion she had 
mentioned. 



no A very Strange Accident. 

" Drink this, Douglas, for your mother's 
sake ! " 

Closed, indeed, must be the ear into which 
that low, pathetic voice of tender music 
could not penetrate, winged with the one 
sacred name of a thousand halos, to which 
no agony, mental or physical, can ever 
entirely deafen the ear or numb the heart 
- — " Mother ! " The heavily-fringed eyelids 
quivered, the lips parted a little as the 
glass touched them ; in a minute she gave 
Chandos back the empty glass. 

" You are a magician ! " he said, smiling. 
" Keep him as he is, please ; unless you are 
tired." 

She glanced keenly up in the fine face, 
with its bright, full, hazel eyes, and sweet, 
firm mouth, and half smiled. 

" I should not be wearied, if you wished 
me to keep your patient like this all night. 
I am a tireless nurse." 

"I believe thatl' said Neville, and then 
stood with folded arms, watching in anxious 



A very Strange Accident. 1 1 1 

silence for the effect of the powerful re- 
storative he had administered. Only a few 
moments of such suspense, and then a sharp 
shiver went through the whole frame, and 
one hand was moved restlessly, as if seek- 
ing something. Gabrielle laid hers in it at 
once, and his fingers closed round it closely, 
with a long-drawn breath over the lips, 
which, if faint, was still one of relief; still 
half unconscious, he knew at least that that 
was the touch he sought. 

" Is she— safe ? God ! Not killed— 
to save me ! " The dark eyes opened 
suddenly, with an almost wild look of 
horror. " I thought — and then that awful 
agony — " 

If that beautiful woman's heart ached and 
throbbed with bitter, sudden pain, dull and 
vague, who knew it but herself as she said 
softly, — 

" Hush, I am safe. You are resting 
against me now, and holding my hand — 
Gabrielle Albany." 



112 A very Strange Accident. 

" All ! — it is her voice — or — my mother's 
— she called me just now — " 

Dr Neville took up a bottle of salts, and 
bent down, holding it cautiously, just 
within inhaling distance. A fear possessed 
him that the physical shock and agony had 
possibly not let the sensitive brain escape 
quite unscathed. 

"Are you in pain now? Some pillows, 
Harford, please." 

There was no answer to the question, but 
there was a start at the strange voice, 
gentle as it was — probably what the clever 
doctor meant. He waited a moment until 
the pillows were placed to his liking, and 
then said, smiling, — 

" Now, nurse, lay him back." 

"It will disturb him, Dr Neville, if I 
loose my left hand; he has it so tight." 

"Exactly what I want; he must be 
roused." 

" Eh bien, monsieur." 

She drew her hand free with some diffi- 



A very Strange Accident. 1 1 3 

culty, and gently laid him against the 
pillows, laying her hand on his brow a 
moment. 

The movement, the touch, had the desired 
effect, for he started again, shivered and 
opened his eyes, once more with a strange 
look that, going from face to face, half 
puzzled and pained, a gradual recognition 
growing slowly, as it came back to hers 
with a sweet, restful look that made Chan- 
dos draw a deep breath of relief. • 

" Ah, forgive ; I am not worth such 
trouble." 

" You know your nurse, then ? " said the 
physician brightly. 

A moment's pause, but the hand sought 
and clasped hers again ; then the low» 
languid tones answered, — 

" Yes, oh yes ; and Harford — " 

'' Not me yet, eh ? " 

The drooping lids and sweeping lashes 
were lifted a moment. 

*' Yes, we met you — to-day." 

VOL. I. H 



114 A very Strange Accident, 

"Eight; I am Dr Neville. Are you in 
pain now ? " 

" Not much." 

" A dull aching % " said Chandos, who had 
to an extraordinary degree that rare and 
invaluable gift to the physician of exactly 
hitting upon the patient's suffering, " such 
as comes after a fearful wrench ? " 

" Yes." 

" Drink this before we go further." 

He mixed a little brandy and water in 
the wine-glass and gave it to Gabrielle. 

Douglas drank it. He only knew the 
fierce agony he had suffered, though per- 
haps both tender nurse and physician could 
nearly gauge it by the force of the almost 
instant deadly swoon and frightful ex- 
haustion following. As Gabrielle replaced 
the empty glass, Neville said, in a low 
tone, — 

*' I will see now, Mrs Albany, whether 
this accident has done more than cause 
cruel pain and exhaust strength, if you will 



A very Strange Accident, 1 1 5 

kindly wait in the next room till I come or 
call you. Your courage and promptness 
has saved him." 

The colour flushed her cheek for a mo- 
ment, but she only bowed her head and 
glided away, closing the door between the 
two apartments. As she passed Harford, 
Dr Neville saw the two exchange a look 
that puzzled and haunted him long after- 
wards. What could it mean ? 





CHAPTEE X. 

SISTER rose's words COME TRUE. 

HEN Chandos Neville came out 
into the salon, Mrs Albany was 
standing by the furthest win- 
dow, in the full flood of moonlight, her 
hands locked loosely before her ; her face, 
with all its world of passion and power 
beneath the statuesque surface, half uplifted, 
the great dark eyes looking out with a 
far-ofi" gaze that saw only the gloom and 
shadows of her ill-starred life — perhaps 
already the deeper, darkest misery of all 
that was creeping slow and deathlike upon 
her ! But the whole attitude and expres- 
sion of face and form struck him very pain- 



Sister Rosens Words come True. 117 

fully. So young still — looking almost a 
girl — what had been her life, her marriage ? 
had she ever cared for the husband from 
whom she was separated ? 

" Well," she said, turning quickly to him, 
with an instant change of the mobile face, 
" what is your opinion ? " 

^' That your prompt action has saved him 
from at least being crippled for life, Mrs 
Albany. That, after a very close and care- 
ful examination, I am satisfied thaf no 
further permanent injury has been added to 
that originally done by the railway accident ; 
and a few days' care and rest will restore 
him to his usual strength." 

" Thank God." 

She turned aside abruptly for a minute, 
pressing her small hands on her heaving 
breast, almost giving way in the sudden 
relief from deadly suspense ; shaken, too, 
herself more than she thought by the shock 
and strain on her strength, as the physician 
saw. 



ii8 Sister Rose's Words come True, 

"You need some care yourself," he said 
quietly ; but she interrupted him. 

" No, no ! Hush ! Not me ! Tell me 
what you wish done for him." 

" He must not be moved from where he 
is till I come to-morrow morning. He has 
on his robe de chambre now, and will do 
very well for the night. I hope he will sleep 
quietly. There is no need for either you or 
Harford to sit up ; but if he will sleep in 
the dressing-room too, and you somewhere 
within easy call — " 

" My apartments are just opposite these," 
she interposed; "and there is bell com- 
munication between all these rooms and 
mine and the courier's, and I am a very 
light sleeper. But let me sit up in here." 

" Certainly not ! I do not at all think 
he will swoon again, or have any return of 
that frightful agony or exhaustion conse- 
quent upon it ; but if there is, give him, 
yourself, a repetition of the dose you saw 
me give." 



Sister Rose's Words come True, 1 1 9 

" You will come up early, Dr Neville ? " 

" I will, indeed. I will remain here all 
night if you wish it, Mrs Albany." 

" You are too kind ! No ; not as you 
think it unnecessary. I suppose you know 
about the accident ? " 

"From Harford; yes. Poor young 
fellow ! It would be the greatest happi- 
ness — " He stopped ; bit his lip, and al- 
most abruptly held out his hand. " Good- 
night, then, Mrs Albany." • 

But, instead of giving him her hand, she 
laid it on his arm detaining him. 

*' Pardon me ! " she said steadily. " I 
have been watching you and taking note 
ever since you came. I had heard that you 
were very clever, and I fully believe it. 
Dr Neville, I am going to speak plainly in 
the very strongest interest of that man 
lying in that room, and I entreat you to 
answer me as plainly — setting aside all 
motives of professional etiquette and de- 
licacy which would usually hold you silent, 



I20 Sister Rose's Words come True. 

as absolutely as I do ; all those considera- 
tions and fears of the world which would 
make most women shrink from the position 
I hold here, and which I do not intend to 
resign unless Mr Glen-Luna himself, in 
whose service I am, wishes it." 

" Mrs Albany, I admire your moral cour- 
age as I do your physical bravery," said 
Chandos warmly. " Speak as you will ; I 
will answer if I can." 

" Thank you ! Well, it needs hardly to 
tell you that no expense has been spared on 
Sir Arthurs only son; no science left un- 
tried ; and yet he is still no further than you 
see. There is something that none of your 
faculty have quite mastered in this case. 
They admit it. They have kept him more 
or less lying down — the mind restless, 
fretted — a physician must know the whole 
truth. Left cruelly to himself, when he 
should have had at least one tender, de- 
voted companion — it has acted on the phy- 
sique, and the general strength and health 



Sister Roses Words come True, 1 2 1 

have suffered." The physician stood now 
with very grave brow and downcast eyes, 
listening intently. *' The great and very 
experienced in any profession sometimes 
fall into grooves where the younger, more 
vigorous blood strikes out some bolder path 
or more daring venture. You start ! " 

" Pardon me — did I ? My sister's very 
words to-night, when we were speaking of 
Mr Glen-Luna." 

" Ha ! you were ? — and the answer you 
gave her — " 

" Mrs Albany ! " Chandos Neville flushed 
to his brow and drew back a step, but she 
laid both her hands on his with a grasp 
more like a man's than a woman's. 

" Dr Neville, if you think, from your 
examination just now, that you can make 
Douglas Glen-Luna what he was, in heaven's 
name speak out, and on me be the charge." 

The passionate force of the woman, that 
in its grand earnestness absolutely flung 
aside self and what he might think, bore 



122 Sister Roses Words come True. 

all hesitation on his part before it, and 
made it even seem to him cowardice before 
her courage. He looked up, his eyes aglow. 

" Mrs Albany, forgive me ; you shame 
me. Under heaven, I believe I can restore 
him to all the perfect beauty and strength 
which that heaven gave him ! I believe 
I have found the very seat of the injury 
done, which has been hitherto missed, and 
I dare now repeat emphatically to you and 
him — the answer I gave my sister this 
evening — I will willingly stake my whole 
reputation on this case." 

He so flung the power of his own con- 
viction into her, as some doctors do, it was 
so much more than she had dared to hope, 
that she gave way for a moment, and 
covered her face. 

When she faced him again, the long 
lashes were still wet ; the dark eyes met 
his with almost an appealiug look that 
touched him. 

" Forgive my weakness. I have only 



Sister Rosens Words come True, 123 

been two days under this roof. I am noth- 
ing but his paid servant as much as Harford 
— less, indeed, for he has served his master 
for years, I only hours, and yet — " 

" Nay — yet — you are ^ nurse and he — 
patient, helpless," said Chandos quietly. 

" Ay, that is it. I am only a woman, 
Dr Neville," with a faint smile, "and it 
made my very heart ache to see a young 
strong man cut down, laid low ; wrecked for 
life, dependent for so much on others — (5h 
me — helpless. I thought till I came here 
that I had grown hard, as well as reckless 
of the world." 

She paused a moment, and then added, 
regaining her usual manner with an effort, — 

" What I say I know he himself will 
ratify to-morrow, and to Sir Arthur all 
his son does is right ! From this hour, 
Dr Neville, that son is in your hands." 

He bowed gravely over the hand he held, 
and touched his lips to it. 

" Till to-morrow, then, Mrs Albany, au 



124 Sister Roses Words come True, 

revoir. No, do not ring for a servant ; I 
know my way just down to that hall." 

" Marston is waiting there to drive you 
home, but — ah, here comes Harford." 

As Chandos Neville went out, the courier 
came in. 

" Would you mind stepping in to Mr 
Douglas, madam, for he asked me just now 
— as I thought he was going off so nicely — 
— whether I was quite sure you weren't 
injured." 

" I was just going in for a minute, Har- 
ford. Just show Dr Neville down to the 
dog-cart, and come back here." 

Chandos followed Harford, Gabrielle 
passed noiselessly into the dressing-room, 
with its lowered lights, and soft summer 
air fanning in, laden with the mingled scent 
of flowers and eau de Cologne. 

Douglas was lying so still, with averted 
face, that she almost hoped he slept, but 
no ; the head was turned languidly to her, 
with a faint, glad smile on the lips, and in 



Sister Rose's Words come True. 125 

the wide open, tired eyes that looked up into 
hers as she bent over him. 

" Now, you see that I am quite unhurt, 
and you must try to sleep ; you are worn 
out." 

" I am tired ; oh, so tired ! I think, per- 
haps, too weary to sleep." 

" Then see, I must try what my art as 
nurse can do. Does your head ache ? " 

" A little." 

She perfectly wetted both her hands with 
the cool essence of Cologne, and once more 
kneeling down beside him, laid one hand 
in his, and kept passing the other slowly, 
lightly across the broad brow, and under 
the rich bronze locks that curled so thickly 
above it. Did she know then, or did he, 
the magic of her touch, her presence ? Ah 
me, no, it was felt, not seen, subtle, intangi- 
ble, unrecognised, but there already as 
surely as the blue sea tosses, and knows not 
its own passionate surging depths. The 
painful wakefulness of over-weariness was 



126 Sister Roses Words come True, 

fain forced to yield to such a spell of might 
as this, and the patient nurse, the tender 
woman, had her reward soon ; the dark 
eyes closed, the chiselled lips settled rest- 
fully, the fingers that had closed over hers 
relaxed, and he lay asleep, just breathing 
softly in all the unconscious grace and 
beauty of a most perfect statue — but a 
statue endowed with the marvellous gift of 
life and immortality. 

Then she softly stole away into the next 
room, carefully closing the door of com- 
munication. 

William Harford was standing there, 
waiting for her, and for a minute each 
faced the other with the same look that 
had so puzzled Chandos Neville. Each 
perfectly understood the other, but neither 
chose to put thought or suspicion into 
precise words, though the man spoke 
first. 

" Mrs Albany, if that gear, wherever the 
fault in it was, had given way entirely, both 



Sister Rose's Words come True, 127 

you and the master would have been dashed 
to pieces against the roof." 

** I know that, Harford." 

It hardly seemed the same voice and face 
that had spoken, and bent so soothingly, so 
tenderly, with such sweet womanliness, to 
the sleeper in the next room ; so stern and 
set voice and face now, as the few words 
fell that to him said such a volume. 

" I know it, Harford." 

" I have telegraphed already to the man 
in town who made this," added the courier, 
" to come at once and put entirely new gear 
to the lift, and the same extraordinary acci- 
dent will not occur again. You know, I 
suppose, Mrs Albany " — the man asked this 
abruptly — " who is the next heir or successor 
to the master ? " 

*'I never heard yet," said Gabrielle 
slowly. 

" You can guess ! " 

"Yes." 

*' Will you say, Mrs Albany ? " 



128 Sister Roses Words come True. 

" No." 

" Shall I tell you ? " 

" If you like." 

" Lady Glen-Luna's daughter, Jessica." 

She made no answer to that, only stood 
looking at him. He spoke again in another 
tone. 

" Mrs Albany, you won't leave Mr 
Douglas, will you ? ' 

" Leave ! certainly not ; why should I, 
unless he himself dismisses me ? " 

*' He'll never do that, madam ; but," the 
man moved uneasily now, and dropped 
his keen eyes, " pardon me ; I'm a man 
over forty, and you are married, or I 
shouldn't venture — " 

" Go on, good, faithful Harford." 

" Well, ma'am, you see — those detestable 
village gossips will talk of you being here, 
you know, and pull you to pieces — most 
ladies in your place would take fright and 

go." 

" I shall not, Harford, if they said the 



Sister Rose's Words come True. 129 

very worst that scandal can invent," said 
Albany's wife calmly, — '' not because I hold 
my name lightly, or am hard, or over reck- 
less, but because, even if no interest kept 
me here, I despise village doings too utterly 
to care what they say ; they are nothing to 
me. And there is every interest to keep 
me here ; we are one. Are you satisfied ? " 
" Quite, thank you, Mrs Albany." 
No more was said ; they parted in silence 
— those two who were in Douglas Glen- 
Luna's service — and so the night of that 
terrible day ended. 




VOL. I. 



CHAPTEK XL 



BEHOLD, A LITTLE CLOUD ARISETH NOW, 
LIKE UNTO A MAN's HAND. 




T is very rarely in this life that 
our most earnest hopes are ful- 
filled, our dearest wishes realised. 
I suppose because our finite humanity, only 
** seeing through a glass darkly," too often 
yearns for that which our all-seeing Creator 
knows is not for our highest good. Quern 
Deus amat castigat. But sometimes, though 
it so falls to very few, the very thing which 
though wished for, seemed most absolutely 
beyond reach, rises up before us — not a 
chimaera or wild dream — but a fact, a reality, 
actually in our grasp. So it was now with 



Behold, a Little Cloud ariseth, etc. 131 

Chandos Neville, and it calls for no very 
unusually dramatic or sympathetic nature 
to understand, or sympathise with, the even 
passionate joy of a man whose whole high 
earnest soul and large-hearted nature were 
in his noble profession, who suddenly finds 
his greatest, yet most hopeless, wish gained. 

The lights still shone from the dining- 
room windows when he reached home, and 
his sister was sitting up for him. 

" Rose ! You naughty Sister Rose." * 

" I was too anxious to sleep, dear, but 
your face tells me good news — some more 
than usual news," she added, as the bright 
gas-light fell full on his face. 

He put both arms round his sister, and 
dropped his head on her shoulder. The 
strong man was trembling like a child. 

** Oh, Rose, I am so happy ! my wish is 
granted." 

"Thank God!" 

Beyond the fervent reverence of those 
two words no other passed her lips till, after 



132 Behold, a Little Cloud ariseth, etc, 

a few minutes stillness, he lifted himself, 
with one deep-drawn breath, and drew 
back. 

" You always know how I feel, Rose, and 
feel with me." 

Chandos drew her to her arm-chair again, 
and, seating himself on one of its arms, 
said, — 

" You remember what we were talking 
of this evening, Sister Eose ? " 

'* Yes, my dear." 

" Rose, Douglas Glen-Luna is my patient 
henceforth ; Mrs Albany has placed him 
absolutely in my hands. Ah ! I tell you 
that woman is a heroine, in the fullest, 
grandest sense of the word." 

" Tell me all about it, Chandos." 

She listened with the silence of deepest 
interest to his account of his new patient 
and his attendant, and the accident which 
had been so nearly a terribly fatal one to 
both. 

Oddly enough her words, as he concluded, 



Behold, a Little Cloud ariseth, etc, 133 

were exactly those Gabrielle had said of her 
— " I should like to know her." 

The ormolu clock struck one as she spoke, 
and she rose up. 

" See, dear ; it is time we both retired. 
How early shall you drive over to the 
Hall?" 

" About nine o'clock," Dr Neville an- 
swered, bolting up shutter and door. " I 
wonder how the accident happened ; it 
was so very extraordinary." 

" Did not Mrs Albany or the courier seem 
to know ?" asked Miss Neville, as the two 
went upstairs together. 

" I don't think so," said Chandos slowly, 
" but I am puzzled. I have a queer fancy. 
I saw such an odd look pass between those 
two. I think they have some suspicion 
resting somewhere." 

" Perhaps one of the servants has been 
meddling with the lift." 

" It may be ; if any one has, they must 
have felt pleasant when it gave way with 



134 Behold^ a Little Cloud arisetk, etc. 

those two lives upon it," said the doctor 
dryly. " Good night, Eose." 

He kissed his sister, and turned into his 
room ; and his dreams were a strange jumble 
of broken lifts, and some one stopping him in 
a lane to fetch him to save some one from 
being murdered, and when he went he found 
himself amidst a thick darkness, and a crowd 
surging wildly to and fro, crying out where, 
in Heaven's name, were Douglas Glen-Luna 
and Gabrielle. And then there came a 
heavy knocking somewhere, which woke the 
dreamer with a start — and, lo ! the house- 
maid was tapping at the door, and telling 
him it was half-past seven, and his hot- 
water was outside. 

An hour and a-half later, the physician's 
pretty brougham — for he kept one besides 
his trap — drew up at the west wing door 
of Luna Hall, and he was at once admitted. 

" Thanks ! I know the way," he said, as 
the servant was about to precede him ; and 
up the wide staircase he went, two at a 



Behold, a Little Cloud ariseth^ etc. 135 

time, through the salon, and tapped at the 
dressing-room door. 

" Come in ! " said Gabrielle's soft voice, 
and as he entered she met him with a glad 
smile and warm hand- clasp of welcome. 

Douglas was lying back on the couch, 
from which, according to orders, he yet had 
not been stirred ; his head turned a little 
aside, his eyes closed — too prostrate, it 
seemed, for even a movement of restless- 
ness. But it was evident every sense was 
keenly alive, for the moment Neville en- 
tered the head turned, and it was good to 
see the bright light of pleasure that banished 
the languor from the beautiful grey eyes, as 
the hand was stretched out. Surely there 
is something much to sweeten the anxious 
care and often terrible responsibility of the 
medical profession, especially to such a man 
as Chandos Neville ; and he is no fancy or 
very unusual a picture either. 

" You look much too colourless and lan- 
guid," he said, smiling : and his smile, like 



136 Behold y a Little Cloud ariseth, etc. 

his whole manner, was gentle, cheering, 
bright yet mellowed — a man whose mere 
presence in a sick-room seemed to bring 
light and relief to both nurse and patient. 
" How have yon slept ? " 

" Well enough, thank you ! I am better." 

" What does nurse say ? " 

The dark eyes turned on her with such 
a look, and then a heavy sigh. 

" Ah ! sweet nurse ! What a trouble and 
anxiety I am to you all ! " 

Her soft fingers were laid on his lips, with 
the sweet, chiding tenderness with which we 
touch a child. 

'* Hush, or I shall scold you ! May we 
move him at all, Dr Neville ? Ah ! pardon ; 
you cannot tell yet. I will send Harford to 
you, and you will find me in the next room.'* 

Mrs Albany rang the bell, and passed out 
as Harford was entering from the corridor. 

" Madam, Mr Boyd himself has just come 
to see to the lift. Will you see him your- 
self?" 



Behold^ a Little Cloud arisetk, etc. 137 

"Yes, Harford, while you attend to Mr 
Douglas. Is Mr Boyd in the hall ? " 

" Yes, madam ; with one of his men." 

" Cest hien ! We shall take care no 
such accident happens again ! " she said 
in French, and went downstairs. 

** Good morning, madam ! I hope I am 
not too early," began Mr Boyd, wondering 
who this handsome lady was ; '' but the 
telegram was so urgent, that I thought I 
had better take the last train down o"^er 
night, and stop in Doring." 

" Quite right. I am obliged to you for 
your prompt answer to my summons. A 
most unaccountable and nearly fatal acci- 
dent happened to the lift last evening while 
Mr Glen-Luna and myself were ascending 
by it ; for as we came half way up to 
the gallery something in the gear below 
suddenly gave way, and the lift ran 
up. When did you last examine this 
machine ? " 

" Only one month ago, madam ; my own 



138 Behold^ a Little Cloud ariseth, etc, 

self, because naturally Sir Arthur is so 
particular over it." 

" Well, and was it then sound ? " 

" As sound as a bell, madam ! I will 
swear that, if it was my last word. Why, 
ma'am, the whole thing was put up new 
only a year ago, and as perfect as skill and 
money could make it. Sir Arthur spared 
no expense, and we no skill. Why, all the 
chains and gear was made double strong ! 
If I didn't see the thing there, I'd never 
have believed it could have happened like 
this. I can't make it out." 

" Nor I ! " said Mrs Albany quietly. 
*' Look at the machinery, and tell me what 
the mischief is, if you can." 

She stood by while the two men bent down, 
watching them, as motionless as a statue, save 
for the quick, short heave of her breast be- 
neath the firm, delicate hands folded over it. 

So watching, she saw the two men sud- 
denly look at each other, each with a quick, 
low " Whew— w— " 



Behold, a Little Cloud arisetk, etc. 139 

"Well?" said Gabrielle Albany, as Mr 
Boyd was erect again. 

" It's just this, madam. The machinery 
has been damaged in some unaccountable 
way — perhaps roughly used. It is not 
safe now ; it don't need to be a mechanic 
to see this." 

"It is most extraordinary ! " she said ; 
*' but of course Sir Arthur will sift it to the 
bottom when he returns. Meanwhile, Mr 
Glen-Luna wishes you to thoroughly ex- 
amine the whole machine, lest there may 
be any other damage done. If you consider 
it in the least necessary, or even advisable, 
the whole thing must come down and be 
refitted. I am Mr Glen-Luna's secretary, 
and fully empowered to give you orders." 

Mr Boyd bowed very low, and Gabrielle 
returned to the salon, leaving them to their 
work of inspection. 

Dr Neville was waiting for her. 

" I am still of the same opinion, Mrs 
Albany. There is no further permanent 



140 Behold, a Little Cloud ariseth, etc, 

injury done, and I think, with a few days 
of care and quiet, we shall get rid of the 
prostration consequent on the shock and 
agony he suffered. Keep away everything 
and every one that can fret him. I want 
both body and that tiresome, restless brain 
of his kept perfectly quiet, for to-day at any 
rate ; and if" — Chandos smiled — '' you can 
by any arts witch him into sleep presently, 
pray do." 

" No one shall come near him but myself 
and Harford, Dr Neville," said Gabrielle 
firmly ; " and you will call in again 
to-day ? " 

" Certainly — this evening." 

*' And of course I am not to tell him 
what passed between us last night, until 
he has recovered his strength ? " 

" I must leave that a good deal to your, 
I know, unerring judgment, Mrs Albany ; 
for if you find him fretting about that very 
thing, as is very likely, tell him what you 
think best." 



Behold^ a Little Cloud ariseth, etc. 141 

"You shall be obeyed like a veritable 
autocrat," she said, smiling a little. " I 
shall not leave him except for a few 
minutes even when the family come home. 
Ah ! what is this ? " 

A footman with a telegram. 

" For you, if you please, madam," he said, 
and withdrew. 

" One moment, Dr Neville. Ah, thank 
Heaven, they are not coming back till 
Monday. Eead." 

It was from Lady Glen-Luna, to say that 
the Eosslyns would not hear of their return 
till Monday (this being Saturday). 

" The best thing that could possibly have 
happened," said Chandos. " We shall have 
our charge driving out again by then, I hope. 
Good-bye till evening, Mrs Albany." 

He shook hands and vanished just as 
Harford entered. Gabrielle gave him the 
telegram. 

" I am more glad than I can say, Mrs 
Albany ; though, of course, you would not 



142 Behold, a Little Cloud ariseth, etc. 

have allowed them to see the master. And 
about the lift, madam ? " 

" Harford, Boyd's positive opinion con- 
firms our worst suspicions." 

The man looked up, and their eyes met. 

*' You mean," he said, under his breath, 
and put one hand on her arm, " that it is 
true beyond doubt that the machinery has 
been tampered with f " 

''Yes." 

They stood facing each other in dead 
silence, which neither broke for some 
seconds. Then the courier dropped his 
hand, and said slowly, — 

" We understand each other perfectly 
then, Mrs Albany ? " 

" Yes — perfectly, Harford." 

The man went through the ante-room ; the 
woman passed as noiselessly into the dressing- 
room, and paused beside the couch on which 
that stricken, prostrate form of beauty lay. 

Hearts feel that love thee ! — hearts feel 
that love thee 1 Ah, me, for the little cloud 
that ariseth like unto a man's hand ! 




CHAPTER XI I. 




GIVING A DIAMOND. 

ABMELLE paused beside that 

couch; bent over the helpless 

form, and said quietly, — 

" They are not coming back till Monday." 

A quick-drawn breath, an instant look of 

intense relief in the dark, tired eyes that 

met hers. 

" I am so glad ! But you would not have 
let them come up ? " 

*' No ! You are to be kept very quiet to- 
day, and see no one." 

" Except my dear nurse ! They mean it 
all kindly," Douglas added, as if in explana- 
tion ; " but they make such a fuss. You 



1 44 Giving a Diamond. 

know what I mean. I am absurd, over- 
sensitive, morbid ; but, still — " 

Still, still, he was a man ; and the very 
pride of his manhood, that glories in its rich 
strength, shrank in horrible dread from 
notice and ejffusive pity in his sufferings, 
even when it was sincere. His stepmother 
and sister at all times jarred on every chord 
of the finely-attuned instrument, and now 
every sensitive nerve had been quivering 
at the mere thought of their coming near 
him ; while this woman, who had come into 
his crushed, hopeless life like a strain of 
most wondrous music, soothed by her mere 
presence. 

"■ Still ! " Gabrielle repeated, laying her 
cool hand on his brow. " I perfectly under- 
stand you ; but you must give this brain 
rest, and not think." 

"Not think! "he said. "Not think I of 
what I was, and what I am — of the living 
death that all my future will be. My God ! 
but for your precious life I wish the lift 



Giving a Diamond, 145 

had crashed to the bottom, and dashed me 
to pieces." 

" Hush ! Oh, hush ! " It so wrung her 
heart, that only the strongest mastery of a 
strong will forced back the tide of emotion 
that for one second had almost broken down- 
self-control, as she knelt down at his side, 
clasping his hand with hands that trembled. 
*' I cannot bear that from you, when — " 

" Forgive me, dear Mrs Albany ! For- 
give me such a selfish outburst of misery ! 
I am weak, unmanned to-day, I think. " I 
forgot myself quite. I am beaten down 
utterly in spirits ! " 

'' Hush ! Listen to me ! " said Gabrielle, 
with one imperative hand on his lips for a 
minute. "I see that it is best to give you 
something happier to think of, since I can- 
not arrest thought, even by sleep." 

Douglas turned his head sharply, so as to 
bring his searching gaze full on her face ; 
and his hand closed almost convulsively on 
hers, as she still knelt. 

VOL. I. %. 



1 46 Giving a Diamond. 

" You will have to forgive me before- 
hand," she said, smiling now, though her 
lips quivered, "for taking a liberty with 
your name, and pledging you to ratify 
something I have done." 
• " It can only be right if you did it, what- 
ever it is." 

" My pardon is signed, sealed, and de- 
livered then, Mr Douglas. Well," she laid 
one hand now on his shoulder, fearful lest 
he should start half up or make some sudden 
movement at her words ; "I spoke to Dr 
Neville last night, and he thinks there is 
some hope for you!" 

The blood rushed to Douglas's bronzed 
cheeks, and she felt him quiver under her 
hand ; but the next minute he was deathly 
pale again, and shook his head. 

" No, no 1 They have all said that at 
first, Mrs Albany." 

" There is ! " she said steadily. " I 
forced him to throw aside the professional 
etiquette that held him silent, and answer 



Giving a Diamond. 147 

plainly my question whether he thought, 
from his recent examination, that he could 
do you any good. I will give you his 
answer, in his own more than earnest words. 
'Under Heaven, I believe I can restore 
him to all the perfect strength which that 
Heaven gave him. I believe I have found 
the very seat of the injury done, which has 
hitherto been missed; and I dare now re- 
peat emphatically what I said to my sister 
— that I will willingly stake my whole re- 
putation on this case ! ' " 
-OGod!" 

Such a dazzling blaze of glorious sunlight 
in the darkness, such a rush of mighty 
waters over the arid land, that manhood's 
proudest barriers gave way, and the man 
suddenly buried his face in the cushions 
with such a deep, passionate burst of emo- 
tion, as laid all check or control powerless 
for many seconds; and Gabrielle neither 
spoke nor moved till the soft voice came 
brokenly. 



148 Giving a Diamond. 

*' Forgive my weakness. I try you so 
cruelly. I, who owe you life, and now — 
hope!" 

" Hush, hush ! You owe me nothing," 
she said, and quietly lifted his head to turn 
the cushions. " There now, you must keep 
very quiet," and, patting the curling locks, 
with a smile, " be my own good boy, or the 
poor nurse will fear she has done wrong to 
tell you." 

" Ah! no, no, dear, sweetest nurse ! And 
now you have not told me what it is I have 
to ratify r' 

Exhausted he might be, physically ; but 
she saw that she had done wisely to put 
even slight hope for despair, sweet for 
bitter, light for darkness. 

" Only this, Mr Douglas. I told Dr 
Neville that from that minute you were 
entirely in his hands." 

'^ Thank you." 

He drew her hand to his lips, and kissed 
it with deep chivalrous reverence ; then 



Giving a Diamond, I49 

closed his eyes, saying quietly that he was 
very tired, and would try to sleep, because 
she wished it. 

When Chandos Neville called in the 
evening he found his new patient markedly 
better ""and stronger, though still languid, 
and he asked Mrs Albany how soon the lift 
would be in order. She told him that an 
entirely new one from Mr Boyd's factory 
was to be sent on Monday, and fixed with 
some extra strong machinery. 

"Which I told her was quite unneces- 
sary," said Douglas, smiling; ''for Boyd 
says that this one is sound, he believes, 
but she and Harford have put their heads 
together, and don't care one bit what I 

say. 

" I may be over fanciful," said Gabrielle, 
^^ but it is a fault on the right side.^ I 
would never again see you in tUs lift with- 
out fear and dread of some other undis- 
covered damage." 

Both men looked at her, both vaguely 



1 50 Giving a Diamond, 

struck by something in her voice of which 
perhaps she was scarcely conscious ; but she 
smiled brightly the next moment, and 
turned the subject. 

" You have not yet ratified my words, 
Mr Douglas, so I'll leave you to do so." 

And, putting down the book she had 
been reading to him when Neville entered, 
she went out of the room. 

A new lift would, she felt sure, make all 
safe in that quarter. She had not much 
fear of a second " accident " with the 
machine. It would look too suspicious, and 
be fraught with too much danger to the 
hand that wrought the evil. 

It is a terrible thing to hav6 a venomous 
serpent at the very hearth. 




CHAPTEE XIII. 



SUNDAY MORNING. 




EAR me ! how all Doring talked 
and gossiped over the new doc- 
tor and new secretary, and the 
accident at the Hall, even as it dressed 
and walked to church or meeting-house 
that Sunday. Of course it knew for a 
positive fact, my dear, everything that had 
(not) happened, and could state on the 
authority of everybody (not) concerned 
every word that could not possibly have 
been uttered. The poor little wee bits of 
truth that looked out might have cried out 
like the lamp-posts in our streets, " Where 



are 



you 



Here 



am 



I ! " They knew 



152 Sunday Morning. 

that "that Mrs Albany" had sent oiF, post 
haste, for the swell London doctor, who 
had, after all, only come for a few months, 
while Mr Parker was away, and in conse- 
quence Mrs Doctor Orde went to church in 
a state of bitter piety that made her feel 
with intense morality that she was a 
straightforward, plain (as she was, heaven 
knows) married woman, and Mrs Leicester 
Albany \ nobody knew what ! 

Gossip wondered that Sunday morning 
whether either she or " those Nevilles " 
would show in church at all. Of course 
they would at St Agnes the Martyr. The 
Hall was High Church from time imme- 
morial, and of course they would do in 
Turkey as the Turkeys did ; though no 
doubt the London doctor was an infidel, 
soaked with modern scientific unbeliefs, 
and " that foreigner " — a Papist — if, in- 
deed, she was anything at all. 

So those of the coterie who, like Mrs 
Doctor Orde, were evangelical, sailed into 



Sunday Morning, 153 

their pews at St Luke's in all the agonies 
of ignorance for two hours, even as to what 
sort of bonnet or hat the new comer would 
wear, and the worst suspicions that Mrs 
Winstanley and some others would know 
that important point before they could do 
so, which was the fact, for Mrs W., passing 
down the aisle, saw Mrs Albany still kneel- 
ing in^ nearly the last rows of chairs, and, 
dear me ! she wore the very same dark 
silk dress and dashing plumed hat in which 
she had driven through the town on Friday. 
And outside, at the churchyard gate (for 
St Agnes's was the beautiful old parish 
church) actually stood a dainty victoria in 
charge of Mr Glen-Luna's own man, Mars- 
ton. Upon my word ! Was madam too 
grand to walk back across the park ? And 
there was Dr Neville, too — waiting for her, 
of course — though he had ridden up to the 
Hall early that day "; the gardener's boy had 
seen him. Mrs Winstanley's eye is upon 
them while she affects to be waiting about 



154 Sunday Morning, 

for Mrs Orde to pass. Ah ! the doctor's 
face lights up — he sees her — no, it is only 
his sister who joins him ; but, almost as 
he stops, the tall, graceful figure followed 
— came up, as they evidently waited for 
her, and the doctor, lifting his hat, with 
a sort of sans ceremonie introduction, — 

" My sister Eose is so anxious to know 
you, Mrs Albany, that we have waited to 
catch you." 

" I am very much honoured, Miss Neville," 
the rich, low voice answers ; " and I assure 
you the anxiety was reciprocal, for we saw 
you as ^e drove by on Friday." 

(" We, indeed," mutters Mrs W., with a 
toss, " upon my word ; quite an adven- 
turess.") 

" Did you ? — I saw you. Will you walk 
just back with us, and come in to luncheon ? " 

*' Thank you. Miss Neville ; you are very 
kind, and I will walk back to your gate 
with pleasure ; but I cannot, I think, leave 
Mr Glen-Luna so much longer alone. He 



Sunday Morning. 155 

insisted on my coming to church, as he was 
so much better. Marston ? " 

" Yes, madam." 

The groom touched his hat, and waited 
her orders, as if she had been his master, 
or a duchess at least. 

" Will you just drive on to Dr Neville's 
gate, and wait for me there ? " 

Marston saluted again, and drove off his 
pretty little horses, while his 'pro tern, mis- 
tress took the doctor's offered arm, and 
passed on between him and Sister Eose. 

" I suspect," she said, smiling, " that my 
brother, although a good Tory, meditates 
a considerable revolution in the medical 
treatment of your charge, Mrs Albany." 

" I think it is needed. Miss Neville, and 
I am verv certain that I mean to make an 
entire revolution in his social treatment, 
subject, of course" — with an arch glance 
at Chandos — "to physician's autocracy. I 
am too true blue to defy legal authority." 

" I think we shall find ourselves quite at 



156 Sunday Morning, 

one, Mrs Albany ; and I have no fear that 
you will allow the least interference with 
your authority in Mr Glen-Luna's menage ^^ 
said the doctor, with a comical look in the 
fine lines of the resolute mouth and brow. 
Indeed, where was there a weak line at that 
beautiful face, in which character was so 
marked % 

" Certainly not. I could not take 
such a responsibility without adequate 
authority ! " 

*' Quite right, Mrs Nurse, and I am very 
certain that Mr Glen-Luna will entirely 
support you. Of Sir Arthur I know no- 
thing. Do they know anything of this 
accident, if I may ask ? " 

'' I wrote last night to Sir Arthur just to 
say there had been a slight accident, that I 
had called you in, and all was well with 
his son, who, I added, had placed him- 
self at once entirely under your medical 
care." 

" Thank you, Mrs Albany. I am glad 



Sunday Morning, 157 

you have done so, and, God knows, I hope I 
shall justify the confidence you and Mr 
Glen-Luna have reposed in me." 

" I am sure of one thing, Dr Neville, that 
if you fail, it will not be from any fault of 
yours." 

He bowed gravely, and Miss Neville 
asked if they had discovered the cause of 
the accident. 

" Some flaw in the chain, I believe," 
Gabrielle answered ; " but a new lift is to 
be put up on Monday. I felt quite safe, 
you see, in acting without the least regard 
to expense, for Sir Arthur would sooner lose 
half his fortune than have any risk to his 
son." 

" I am not surprised," said Neville, ** that 
his father should be so fond of him. He- is 
his heir, his only son, and a man gifted with 
singular power of attaching those about 
him. The servants seem to simply adore 
him." 

So talking, the three reached the gate of 



158 Sunday Morning. 

Cedar Lodge, and Mrs Winstanley, standing 
behind her own, on the opposite side of the 
wide roadway, heard Miss Neville say as 
they were parting, — 

" You will come and see us, then, Mrs 
Albany, whenever you can, or like ? " 

*' I shall be so happy. Miss Neville. I 
think, when I am driving out, the horses 
will soon learn their way here." 

" Upon my word ! " said Mrs Winstanley, 
" I — I — the horses indeed ! as if the whole 
thing belonged to her. She steps into that 
victoria as if she had never been used to 
anything but a carriage all her life ! Such 
airs ! " 

Which, in fact, Leicester Albany's wife 
had been more or less. She was *' to the 
manner born," in truth ; but it did not 
seem that unfortunate Mrs Albany could 
please Mrs "Winstanley in any way, whether 
she said " we " or ** I " only. Alas ! for 
the Doring lady's censure ! I'm afraid 
that it was like the account of the Papal 



Sunday Morning, 159 

excommunication in the *' Ingoldsby Le- 
gends": — 

"Never was heard such a terrible curse ; 

But what gave rise 

To no little surprise, 

Nobody seemed one penny the worse !" 




CHAPTEK XIV. 



RETURN HOME. 




OUGLAS GLEN-LUNA was back 
again on his usual couch, in his 
favourite place by the window, 
on Monday morning. Not, though, .until 
Dr Neville had been, and given permission 
for the resumption of his accustomed ways. 
Wicked Douglas had tried in vain to coax 
his " fair autocrat " to suffer any remove 
without orders from headquarters. 

*' And as to Harford," said Douglas, " I 
don't believe he would have obeyed any 
order of mine on the subject if Mrs Albany 
had even looked a * No ! "* 



Return Home, i6r 

Gabrielle smiled, and Neville asked when 
the family returned. 

" About midday, I suppose, Dr Neville ; 
as we have not heard." 

"And the lift will be ready to use to- 
morrow." 

** So Boyd promised, and you see he has 
the men hard at work." 

"I see. Well, Mr Glen-Luna, I shall 
expect to meet you and Mrs Albany out 
with those blood horses again ; and in an- 
other twelve months, perhaps, we shall re- 
verse the case, and have you driving her on 
the box-seat of your four-in-hand." 

The blood flushed to Douglas's brow ; but 
it died as suddenly, with a look of intense 
pain and a restless movement. 

" Ah, don't ! Don't jest ! " 

" Jest ! How could I on such a matter ! 
I was never farther from jesting in my life, 
Mr Glen-Luna ; and I have every hope that, 
with Mrs Albany's continued assistance, I 
shall make good my words, under the treat- 
VOL. I. L 



1 62 Return Home, 

ment we shall follow ; of which I will speak 
more in a few days." 

Douglas turned aside, and his breast 
heaved. 

A year ! Only a year, and then — could 
it be possible ! Dared he look at such a 
hope ! 

" Well, good-bye, Mr Glen-Luna," came 
the physician's bright, cheering voice. ** I 
wish I left all my patients in as good hands 
as I do you ! " 

" I must not forget your good opinion, 
then." 

He laughed, shook hands with both, and 
was gone. 

But it was not till afternoon that Sir 
Arthur and his wife and daughter came 
home ; and shortly afterwards a footman 
came to inquire if Mr Douglas could see 
them. 

" Yes, James." 

Gabrielle Albany was leaning lightly on 
the head of the couch as greetings passed 



Return Home, 163 

and anxious questions were asked. It was 
neither the frank, fine old baronet or his 
daughter whom her covert searching gaze 
watched ; but that little lady, who kissed 
her "dear boy" so affectionately, and was 
so full of gratitude for his escape, to Provi- 
dence and dear Mrs Albany, who had done 
everything that was right ; and what caused 
the accident, and — 

" Indeed, Lady Glen-Luna, it little mat- 
ters, since," said Gabrielle, dismissing the 
subject of the accident, "there is a new 
lift, and very good care must be taken that 
no second accident occurs." 

" And meanwhile, Jessie," said Douglas 
gravely, "you will have the fullest opportu- 
nity of flirting with Dr Chandos Neville." 

" Ha ! ha ! You're as wicked as ever, 
my boy," laughed Sir Arthur; and Jessie 
retorted, — 

" I shall have better than that, sir, I can 
tell you, Mr Impudence ; for mamma says 
we're going to town in a few days for the 



164 Return Home, 

rest of the season, and there'll be plenty of 
people to flirt with then." 

*' A highly-to-be -desired end, my dear, I 
admit, and one in which, I think, few young 
ladies require lessons. Do they, Adeline ? " 

" Or men either, you bad boy ? But, 
Arthur, we mustn't tire him. So you fancy, 
dear boy, by the way, to have Dr Neville 
to attend you ? " 

Mrs Albany bent over the sofa head, and 
laid her finger playfully but imperatively 
on Douglas's lips. 

" Hush ! or the doctor will scold me for 
letting you tire yourself. Please, Lady 
Glen-Luna, don't make him talk. Indeed, 
I am afraid I must turn you all out now." 

" Oh, you autocrat ! " laughed Adeline, 
" I suspect you will lead my poor Douglas 
a sad life of it; but of course it is all 
right. I suppose Dr Neville thinks that it 
will take some time of medical care to really 
sound the mischief of — " 

"The accident," said Gabrielle quietly. 



Return Home, 165 

" Exactly so ; a work of time. It might 
have been beyond all time." 

** Don't talk of it," said Sir Arthur, 
huskily. " Good-bye, for the present, my 
own boy." 

Douglas clasped his father s hand closely, 
endured Adeline's kiss and Jessie's caress ; 
and, when the door closed behind them, 
said very quietly, — 

" Come here, Mrs Albany." 

She moved round to his side, never 
flinching for one moment under his intense 
searching gaze, as he said, — 

" Why did you put your hand on my 
lips, just now, and answer, or rather take 
up, Adeline's questioning remarks as you 
did, fair Jesuit ? " 

" My reason was strictly true, Mr Doug- 
las ! and you, like myself, believe in casu- 
istry, I know. I suffered a mistaken im- 
pression ; populus vult decipi decepiaticr" 
with a slight shrug of her shoulders and a 
half smile on her lips. 



1 66 Return Home, 

** Cest fa'' said he, his great grey eyes 
still watching her. " I saw at once that 
you did not wish the truth about Neville 
to be known, and so obeyed your lead ; 
for if speech is silver, silence is golden ; 
but I do not see your reason — your 
motive." 

"Will you trust me that it is a good 
one ? '' she said steadily. " More than 
that, will you promise me to still preserve 
you golden silence, and let them all think 
that Dr Neville's attendance is only in con- 
sequence of this accident, and let me write 
to him to do the same ? I am asking a 
great deal, I know ; but one strong reason 
I can give you and him is a very self- 
evident one. It would fret you frightfully 
and retard your recovery to be talked 
over, questioned, watched — however kindly 
meant — gossiped over." 

" Saints above ! It would madden me ! " 
he said passionately ; "do what you like, 
you are always right ! " 



Return Home. 167 

Her hand trembled as it touched his 
gratefully for a second, and the touch sud- 
denly thrilled every fibre of that man's 
whole being, as she sat down to his escri- 
toire and began to write her letter. 

Ah me ; for the cruel hand and ruthless 
schemer that cared not if it made wreck of 
two human hearts to gain its end ! Would 
it win in the losing — or — lose in the 
winning ? 

That letter was sent to Cedar Lodge hy 
Marston that evening. Chandos read it, 
and handed it to his sister, saying 
quietly,— 

*' Eead it, and burn it, Kose ; she wishes 
you to see it." 

She could be trusted, he knew well. 

" She is perfectly right," said Sister Eose, 
as she burned the letter in a taper, *' and 
her reason shows her to be a true meta- 
physician. She is a clever woman. Don't 
you think so, Chandos ? " 

** Yes, Eose ; a very clever woman." 



l68 Return Home. 

The answer was meditative, even ab- 
stracted. Sister Eose added, — 

" There is some thought in the back of 
your mind, Chandos.** 

He looked up with a half laugh. 

" I don't know that there was, dear ; 
certainly nothing definite enough to put into 
words without sounding too strong for the 
vague impression I would express. The 
story of that singular woman's life is no 
ordinary one, I am sure, and will be no 
ordinary one." 

" I think," said Eose Neville strongly, 
" that it is a cruel thing to go away and 
leave her alone to have her very name 
talked away in this scandalising town. She 
will leave, and what will you do for your 
patient ? " 

*' My dear," said Neville serenely, *' I 
agree with you in your first count, but for 
the other I have no fear at all of Mrs 
Albany leaving young Glen-Luna's service 
for anything but his own dismissal. She is 



Return Home, 169 

a thorough woman of the world — a thorough 
cosmopolitan — and I am very much mis- 
taken if she has not known troubles to 
which anything this stupid little place could 
do or say would be play- work. When one 
has beaten through a frightful tempest, the 
storm in a duck pond is worthy only of 
haughty indifference." 

" If," said gentle Eose, " a woman can 
ever look with indifference on a breath on 
her name, unless she is hardened." * 

" No," said Chandos, ** seared a little, 
perhaps, certainly not hardened ; and, after 
all, Eose, a thoroughly brave, loyal-hearted 
woman stands at such an immovable height 
in her own purity." 

" Yes," answered Sister Eose, " but what 
if she falls to her own conscience, what, if 
while her actions are unblemished, her heart 
— her poor human heart — swerves from its 
loyalty." 

" Well," said the doctor, getting up and 
walking slowly to and fro, " it might be a nice 



170 Return Home, 

question of ethics, how far it would touch 
a woman's conscience, even to herself, if she 
were placed in a position of great tempta- 
tion, and her heart swerved, not from or 
with her own will — but against all that 
will's struggles — despite all her efforts to 
keep it in its strict line of duty. I think 
that as long as she fights the battle, as long 
as she suffers in the heart's straying, she has 
not, cannot, fall to her own conscience — or 
her purity of soul be sullied. Of course, 
I am supposing a position in which the 
temptation must be endured — not fled 
from." 

" The maintenance of her high standard," 
said Rose, "would, I fear, have but a 
shaky foundation if, in her heart and her 
conscience, her purity came on opposite 
sides of the shield ; how long would the 
battle be a battle, the suffering remain 
suffering, in a strong impassioned nature ? 
You do not mean that if a wife with every 
excuse loves another man — " 



Return Home. 171 

" I mean this, Rose," said the doctor, stop- 
ping before her chair, " that if she does not 
yield to it, and if the love is in itself pure, 
she is untouched — her pure loyalty is intact. 
A thought or feeling may be wrong, sinful, 
but we do not become sinners to it till we 
meet it, take it in, make it our own." 

" You are quite right, Chandos," said 
Eose, after a pause, "yes, you are quite 
right. But God help the woman or man who 
has such a battle to fight ; it might not. be 
won. It is a cruel, cruel thing, Chandos." 

She came back with that to where she 
had started, and shook her head sadly to 
herself. 

They had each, all through, had two 
living beings before them, and each knew 
it, though neither had put it into words. 
It is better not sometimes. 



CHAPTEK XV. 



DR NEVILLE LAYS DOWN THE LAW. 




UT Chandos Neville did not meet 
the tenants of the west wing out 
driving with the blood horses. 
Wishing to have a long talk, he waited till 
the afternoon of the next day, when, having 
seen all his other patients, he had the time 
all his own, and started off to the Hall on 
foot. At the Doring gates of the park, 
however, the lodge-keeper stopped him with 
a bright " Good day, sir. Was you going 
up to the Hall to see Mr Douglas ? " 

" Yes, Mrs Crane. Is he out driving ? " 
** No, sir ; but he ain't in the house this 
fine day, for Mr Harford he's just ridden 



Dr Neville lays down the Law. 173 

througli, and he told me that the master 
and Mrs Albany are just down by the river, 
along near the boathouses." 

** Thanks ! Which is the shortest way to 
that part, then ? " 

The woman pointed to a lovely bit of 
wooding. 

" Just through that wood, sir ; and, as 
soon as you catches sight of the river, turn 
your back to the Hall and lawns, and keep 
straight down to the water; then skirt* it 
till you see the master, sir." 

Dr Neville thanked her again, and fol- 
lowed her directions, which soon brought 
him out by the river ; and he had not gone 
far when he caught the gleam of something 
crimson between the rich green of the foli- 
age, and the musical murmur of voices came 
to his ear. Neville made a slight detour, 
and paused on a rising ground crowned with 
stately trees, from which he could see the 
group in the lovely dell below, where the 
river rippled almost at their feet. 



1 74 Dr Neville lays down the Law, 

Douglas Glen-Luna was leaning back in 
his wheeled chair, his attitude the very per- 
fection of easy grace, the sunlight falling 
full on his handsome face as it turned intent 
and rapt to his beautiful attendant, who, 
seated at his feet on the chair, was reading 
aloud, and it was her crimson scarf which 
he had seen. 

As Chandos paused, the reader seemed to 
have come to the end of what she was read- 
ing, and she looked up in Douglas's face 
with a question that came distinctly on the 
clear summer air. 

" What would you like next ? " 

" Nothing, Mrs Albany. I feel a per- 
fectly selfish wretch already ; but — you 
read so exquisitely." 

She laughed a little, amused, it seemed, 
at the first words. 

'' You selfish ! I don't think any one can 
lay that to your charge." 

" Then I fear I must be a hypocrite to 
have given you such an opinion of me. 



Dr. Neville lays down the Law. 175 

Don't you think most of my sex are selfish 
— more so than women ? Candour, now 
please, fair Jesuit, if you can." 

" I think most men are more selfish than 
women ; but," said Gabrielle, smiling, and 
looking straight in his face, *'if you will 
have absolute candour, I do not think you 
know what the word selfishness means ! " 

" Basta ! " said he, laughing and colour- 
ing. "You cannot tell. You have only 
known me a week." * 

" A feather will show which way the wind 
blows, Mr Douglas," Gabrielle answered. 
"What shall I read?" 

" Nothing yet, chere madame. I cannot 
tire you. Ah ! who is that ? " 

Both turned as the doctor's step advanced ; 
and the next moment Gabrielle rose quickly, 
and Douglas exclaimed joyously, — 

" Why, it is our ^sculapius himself ! 
Boyez toujours le bien venn Neville ! Did 
you come this way by chance ? " 

"No, I came after you," answered the 



176 Dr Neville lays down the Law. 

physician in his bright way ; " the lodge- 
keeper directed me, and I thought there 
could hardly be a better opportunity for a 
quiet talk. I have some theories which I 
want to put into practice co-existently with 
the more purely medical treatment. It is 
of the first I wish to speak. I don't mean," 
said the doctor, leaning comfortably back 
against a tree, and folding his arms, " that 
I have any new or startling theory to offer, 
but only old theories — old facts, indeed — 
which I perhaps push to an extreme, though 
I do not think either of .you will disagree 
with me." 

" Go on, please, Neville." 

"Well," said the physician, "I don't 
think, with all our advancement, that we 
have yet half fathomed the depth and 
closeness of the connection between mind 
and body, the intimate and absolute influ- 
ence which the mental and physical have 
over each other, both in health and out of 
health, especially in the latter case, and the 



Dr Neville lays down the Law. 177 

greater the power of both, the deeper, the 
more intense, the influence of each over 
the other. I think that in medical science 
there is scarcely any limit to be placed to 
the influence and reaction of psychology 
over physiology." 

"I thoroughly endorse every word you 
have spoken!" said Glen-Luna. *'I sup- 
pose you have always followed that prin- 
ciple of action in your own career ? " 

" Ay, and the finer strung the nature J 
have to deal with the more necessary the 
treatment," said the doctor, so significantly 
that Douglas laughed. 

*' Meaning me, of course. Do you think 
I shall prove rebellious." 

" No ; but I am afraid that circumstances 
would do so if I had not an ally ever at 
your side in Mrs Albany. We mean to 
make a complete revolution in your life." 

" I think that is done already," said 
Douglas softly ; " but I beg your pardon ; 



go on." 



VOL. I. 



I yS Dr Neville lays down the Law, 

" It is only just begun a week ago," 
returned the physician decidedly ; " and 
pardon me if it is necessary for me to 
ask a few questions, which I fear must 
pain you." 

A quick-drawn breath, a quick, transient 
flush, and a restless movement of one hand 
as he answered, — 

" Say what you like, Neville." 

"Thank you. From the time of the 
accident, then, you have been left alone, to 
suffer and brood, and go half-mad with 
restlessness and agony of mind and body ; 
where you should have had constant and 
affectionate companionship you have been 
cruelly neglected. The mere physical con- 
finement was enough to weaken and injure 
the body and chances of recovery (which 
must depend so much on the strength), with- 
out the added weight of such mental wear 
and tear. A wild, free spirit, a mind used 
to revelling in the broad expanse of the 
wide world's garden, a splendid physique', 



Dr Neville lays down the Law. 1 79 

all suddenly crushed down into the narrow 
limits of a suite of rooms, feeling your life 
wrecked and God-forgotten, shrinking more 
and more morbidly from every one. Mrs 
Albany saw — read — all this in a few hours, 
and first, in fact, broke through the cordon 
when she drove you out last Friday. You 
are not probably yourself aware how im- 
measurably lowered is your whole physique 
from the constant fret of mind acting on it, 
and it will take months, perhaps, of a totally 
opposite treatment to bring back something 
like its native strength, — a treatment which 
mainly aims at restoring the physical tone 
through restoring the mental tone. With- 
out that — of which Mrs Albany is so in- 
tegral a part — I should not have dared to 
offer the hope I have. You are like a very 
fine instrument thoroughly out of tune. It 
cannot be strung up all at once. My plan 
is social as well as medical." 

He paused. Mrs Albany did not move. 
Douglas Glen-Luna, without dropping the 



1 80 Dr Neville lays down the Law, 

hand he had put over his eyes, said in a 
very low voice, — 

" I know too well how bitterly right you 
are. What is your plan ? " 

"Simply, Glen -Luna, to continue and 
expand what your young friend here has 
begun. We must * rub ' out, and date from 
Mons. You have been kept lying down and 
in one or two positions too much. You shall 
move positions and recline as much as you 
are able to bear it. You must go out — be 
out constantly — and you must no longer 
shun people, the world, and shrink from it. 
And as you cannot yet go to society, we 
must bring society to you. We must get 
them to bring down guests this autumn." 

"No! no! not that, Neville!" Douglas 
broke out passionately. " I cannot mix with 
others, meet others I have known, so, so 
differently." 

Soft fingers clasped his — a soft voice, full 
of the very pathos of intense sympathy, 
said quietly, — 



Dr Neville lays down the Law. 1 8 1 

" It will only be so hard at first, and 
then you will feel all in your own element 
again." 

He made no answer, or even movement, 
for some moments ; then lifted himself a 
little, and, closing one hand round hers, 
held the other out to Chandos. 

" Forgive me, Neville. I will never gain- 
say one wish of yours or hers ; it only proves 
how right you are, and what a coward I have 
become." • 

" No, no, not a coward," Chandos inter- 
rupted, " you must not be too severe on 
yourself, or Mrs Albany will scold you." 

" I am not afraid of her, tyrant though 
she is," said Douglas. "Neville, will you 
turn back to the Hall with us, and let me 
introduce you to my people ? " 

'* With great pleasure." 

They were, in fact, only a short distance 
from the old Hall, which had been built 
near the river. Gabrielle rose, came quietly 
behind the light, dainty chair, and laid her 



1 82 Dr Neville lays down the Law. 

hands on the handle, saying, as Chandos 
would have taken it from her, — 

" Thanks, Dr Neville, but please let me 
push it as usual ; see how light it is and 
easy. Indeed, I like it ; it is no effort." 

That this was true was self-evident the 
moment she pushed the chair ; even up the 
gentle slope it gave her unmistakably no 
great exertion, and the physician's practised 
eye took note that, slight built though she 
was, every muscle, every fibre was full of a 
steel-like subtle strength that was almost 
masculine ; and, under strong excitement 
or passion, might indeed put forth a power 
which might even rival a man's strength. 
The thought crossed him then — and before 
many months had passed, he had cause to 
remember that thought. 



CHAPTER XVI. 



READ THE RIDDLE NEAR HOME. 



^^I^SHE dainty chair, with its elastic 
Opl ^^ webwork of fine springs and 
^ ^u§^ noiseless - tyred wheels, came 
along the marble terrace and stopped be- 
fore the windows of the room where Sir 
Arthur, after a long ride, sat half-dozing, 
while Jessie read a novel, and Lad}^ Glen- 
Luna, seated half behind the window 
curtains, was drawing the gorgeous silks 
through her embroidery, her own face and 
manner as silky as the threads she wove. 
But she had seen them coming, and almost 
before Douglas's flute -like tones had called 
"Adeline," her pretty little ladyship had 



1 84 Read the Riddle near Home. 

tripped out, all smiles and welcome, with 
white, frank hand outstretched to the 
physician. 

" I won't pretend to need the farce of an 
introduction, Dr Neville," said smiling lip 
and clear metallic voice. " I should guess 
who you were, even if I had not heard so 
much of you. I guessed the moment I saw 
you all three that it could only be Dr 
Neville with my dear Douglas." 

Chandos bent low over the white, cold 
hand as he answered that he was pleased to 
meet her ; but Gabrielle, from her vantage 
place behind the chair, noticed that the 
hazel eyes scanned her as keenly as covertly 
the moment she appeared, a fact which 
Douglas also saw, as Adeline turned to call 
her daughter and husband. 

Jessie caught a very quiet, wicked look 
from Douglas as her mother performed the 
introduction, and then hearty, handsome Sir 
Arthur came out to the group. 

*' I am so very glad to have met you, Dr 



Read the Riddle near Home, 185 

Neville," he said cordially, and the contrast 
between his and his wife's manner struck 
three of those present as absolutely ludi- 
crous ; " and I am sure I could not wish 
my son in better hands than yours. I 
wish you could persuade him not to be such 
a recluse ; more society, I am certain, 
would — " 

"Oh, Sir Arthur!" exclaimed Mrs Al- 
bany, laughingly, "please don't make him 
medical again. Indeed, Dr Neville," lightly 
striking his arm with that inimitable, 
charming imperativeness which a hand- 
some, thoroughly accomplished woman of 
the world knows so well how to use, 
" you shall not answer now." 

" I must e'en obey a lady's command," 
said Ohandos, bowing, " and only beg Lady 
Glen-Luna to be my defender. I hear you 
are going to desert the Park for five or 
six weeks." 

" Yes, we go to town to-morrow, I think ; 
and when, we return I hope we shall have 



1 86 Read the Riddle near Home. 

the pleasure of seeing both yourself and 
your sister. You see," said my lady, with 
her frank, merry laugh, " that I have heard 
of her, too, in the village ; I am such a 
little chatterbox, you know." 

" Mamma is frank about her delinquen- 
cies," said Jessie ; " is she not ? " 

" Well, Miss Glen-Luna, but chatter- 
boxes enliven the world, and so we must 
not call it a delinquency. But I fear I 
must take leave now," as the clock on the 
tower chimed out four. '*You ladies have 
beguiled me." 

" Must you run away so soon," said Sir 
Arthur and Adeline together ; "' cannot you 
stop longer ? " 

" You are very kind ; I cannot, indeed," 
he answered, and took leave with a very 
odd impression on his mind ; firstly, that 
iu the diversion Gabrielle had made to 
his reply to Sir Arthur, there had been 
a far different motive to that which lay 
so fairly on the surface; and secondly, 



Read the Riddle nea7' Home, 187 

that she was relieved when he walked 
away. 

But he had not gone more than just 
beyond the reach of even Douglas's keen 
ear shot when Gabrielle suddenly ex- 
claimed, — 

" Ma foi ! how provoking ! I have for- 
gotten to send my message to his sister 
after all ! Please excuse me a few minutes, 
Mr Glen-Luna." 

Douglas bowed, and leaned back, watching 
the slight, graceful figure rapidly moving ; 
while the others re-entered the room, de- 
claring it was " too hot in the sun." 

" Hot ! " said Douglas, shrugging his 
shoulders ; *' it never is in England ! " 

" I think, my dear, that you and Mrs 
Albany are salamanders," laughed his step- 
mother through the windows. 

Meanwhile Ghandos Neville had seen 
Gabrielle, as she neared him, and instantly 
turned to meet her, asking quickly, — 

" Is anything the matter, Mrs Albany ? " 



1 88 Read the Riddle near Home. 

" Not as you mean, Dr Neville ; but — can 
you spare me a few moments ? " 

" As many as you please ! " lie answered 
gravely. 

She stood for a minute looking down, 
her fingers twisting and untwisting her 
watch guard. She was on dangerous 
ground, and, knowing it, meant him to 
show his colours first. Hers was the most 
subtle nature ; his the more candid. 

" Dr Neville, I owe you an apology for 
my interruption a few minutes back. I 
am afraid that it puzzled and vexed you ; 
that you perhaps misunderstood me." 

She lifted those searching eyes of hers 
straight to his as she spoke. 

*' Certainly not vexed, dear Mrs Albany," 
said Chandos earnestly ; '* not misunderstood, 
I fancy, for I felt that you had some good 
reason for your apparently laughing words ; 
puzzled, because I could not quite see your 
motive." 

" No ! You were going to thoroughly 



Read the Riddle near Home, 189 

endorse Sir Arthur's words ; add that 
society, a house full of guests, was the very 
thing his son should have, en fin, show your 
tactics." 

" Why not ? Sir Arthur, I am certain, 
and so are you, would do anything for his« 
son's welfare." 

" Certainly he would ; but," she looked 
down again, with an odd, comical, signifi- 
cant smile about her delicate, firm lips, 
*^ don't you remember the story told of. 
the Duke of Marlborough at the council of 
war?" 

" You mean the one where he had secret 
information that a spy was present, and so 
gave out a totally opposite plan to his real 
scheme, despite all remonstrances." 

" Precisement, monsieur. Kead the 
riddle near home — et voila tout ! I leave 
that to your quick wits ; to mine the task 
of Marlborough. I only ask you to re- 
member how wisely the ancients placed 
Truth at the bottom of a well ; and leave 



1 90 Read the Riddle near Home, 

the rest to me. I think I am more than a 
match for the enemy ; and I think I read 
your impression." 

'' I knew that," said Chandos strongly, 
" metal upon metal — false heraldry. I 
Gannot think either that Douglas Glen-Luna 
is deceived." 

" Not for one moment," said Gabrielle 
emphatically, *' but he makes no sign. 
Now we understand each other, Dr Neville." 

"Perfectly, and we have one end in 
view." 

*' One end. Now adieu, and warn your 
sister. Will you bring her to see us soon, 
if she will come ? " 

" Nothing will give her greater pleasure, 
Mrs Albany." 

He raised his hat, bowed low, and went 
on, while she returned to Douglas Glen- 
Luna. He gave her such a keen searching 
look that she could scarcely bear it, and the 
colour tinged the soft dark cheeks. 

*' I beg your pardon," he said quietly ; 



Read the Riddle near Home, 1 9 1 

" shall we go back under the trees, now 
please, if you are not tired ? " 

"I am not at all tired, Mr Douglas. I 
have taken a liberty with your name ; do 
you know ? " 

" I am only happy if my name can be of 
any use to you, sweet nurse. What have 
you done with it ? " 

" I have asked Miss Neville to come and 
see us." 

He winced at that, and did not answer. 
She bent down a little as she pushed the 
chair. 

''Forgive me ! It grieves me to probe a 
wound and cause suffering, but there must 
be a beginning, you know." 

" I know you are always right, and I 
wrong," said Glen-Luna, dropping his curly 
head back on the cushions to look up in 
her face. "I am afraid you will find me a 
handful to manage, after all, Mrs Albany." 

But Gabrielle only shook her head and 
laughed. 



1 92 Read the Riddle near Home, 

" An open foe is nothing. It is the 
secret enemy that one must needs dread." 

Did he know that as well as she did % Did 
she not know that he did, or why had he 
never once asked a question about any one 
thing that had passed since she came there ? 
Silence was golden to both unless the 
serpent's fang came too close, and then — 
what then ? 



CHAPTEK XYII. 



"nous avons change tout cela." 




STILL, heavy, brooding evening, 
sultry and oppressive, the at- 
mosphere charged with that 
subtle electricity, which is cantly and most 
incorrectly called " thundery," and few of 
those who made units of the thousands 
ever passing to and fro the busy streets 
of mighty London, but could have pre- 
dicted a heavy storm before many hours 
had passed. 

Every breath of air — even 



" Summer evening's latest sigh, 
That shuts the rose." 



VOL. L 



N 



194 Nous Avons Change Tout Cela. 

had died away at sunset, and across the 
deep blue vault above, with its myriads 
of starry worlds, there lay like a slum- 
bering giant overhead, with sweeping robe, 
and arms outstretched over the great 
city, a mass of lurid clouds, dark and 
ominous, flecked a little here and tjiere 
with fleecy white that had caught the 
last glow of the sunlight, as the wings of 
the stormy petrel at sea catch its glint — 
wondrous and most awesome beauty in 
those far-ofi" heavens — and yet how many 
of those restless, surging thousands below, 
bent on business or pleasure, paused once 
and glanced up to admire ? Certainly not 
that tall, powerfully-built man — whom we 
should know — for he only looked up as 
he leaped out of a hansom in Great Port- 
land Street, to mutter a curse on the 
close heat. 

He was in evening dress, beneath the 
light summer wrap coat which he wore, 
so it seemed an odd place to alight — still 



Nous Avons Change Tout Cela. 195 

more odd that he turned at once down 
the first eastward outlet, and in a short 
while made his way into the quiet bye 
street into which, only shortly before, he 
had followed Gabrielle Albany. At that 
same house, kept by worthy little Mrs 
May, Leicester Albany once more stopped, 
with a somewhat blank look as he saw a 
neat card in the parlour window, with 
'' Furnished apartments" on it. 

" The devil ! " he muttered angrily, 
" where' s the bird flown ? If it were only 
out off England — only off with some lover, 
I'd be down on her, and try at least to 
get rid of her. I'll find out, though, where 
she is." 

He went up the steps and knocked. 
Mrs May herself answered it, for she had 
seen a well-dressed gentleman pause out- 
side, and had an eye to business. His 
very first words, however, urbanely enough 
spoken, disabused her of any such idea, and 
caused a revulsion in her quick little head. 



196 Nous Avons Change Tout Cela. 

"You lately had a lady lodging here 
named Albany, I think ? " 

Mrs May was on her guard at once, and 
pursed her lips, eyeing the stranger aslant 
with no friendly expression. 

"Mrs Albany left me over a fortnight 
ago, sir," she said curtly, but civilly. " I 
was sorry to lose her too." 

" Indeed ! had she been with you long, 
then?" 

" She kept on my rooms for two years, 
though she was much abroad herself" 

" Was she ? And she has left London, 
you say ? " 

"I didn't say nothing of the sort, sir," 
returned Mrs May sharply. " I said she'd 
left me, and that's all I knows." 

" You don't know where she has gone ? " 

" No, I don't." 

He did not believe her — he was furious 
at the fiat denial, and said, with an evil 
sneer, "I suppose, then, my good woman, 
that you do not know either that Mrs 



Nous Avons Change Tout Cela. 197 

Albany left her husband in California about 
two years ago — fled, I mean, with a lover, 
and came here and humbugged the law 
into giving her a separation with a cooked- 
up case." 

Mrs May blazed out at once all in one 
breath of wrath. 

" I wish she could 'a cooked you up, I 
do, for daring to tell such lies ! Upon 
my soul and body, I don't believe your 
nothink better than her scamp of a hus- 
band his own self, and if hever you come 
here again, I'll give you in charge for 
deferation of character, I will, you nasty, 
mean wretch, you." 

Bang went the door right in his face, 
and he could hear the little woman's step 
stumping angrily away within. His own 
face was livid as he turned away into the 
street, and he laid this up as another count 
against his wronged wife. 

But smooth and urbane, and handsome 
once more was Mr Leicester Albany, when 



198 Nous Avons Change Tout Cela. 

not long afterwards he lounged into the 
stylish stalls of the Prince of Wales's, 
glanced round, and relapsed into the velvet 
seat, with a nod to one or two young men 
who were two or three rows behind. 

" Who the deuce is that dashing-looking 
card, Eosslyn ? " asked the young man who 
had not been noticed. " I saw him on the 
Row last week, and he came out of Aylmer's 
salon de jeu last night just as I was 
leaving — a new face surely this last fort- 
night ! " 

Percy Eosslyn was one of those sort of 
society flies who are always more or less 
posted up as to the who's-who of the leaves 
and twigs eddying about on the restless 
waters of London society. 

" Yes, a new face," he said ; *' an awfully 
jolly fellow too, and plenty of money — not 
a bad catch for some girl who wants a good 
settlement ; some one introduced Clifford 
Brandon at the Polyglot, and he and I 
rather struck up an acquaintance." 



Notts Avons Change Tout Cela. 199 

" How is it that he's such a stranger to 
London '? " said the younger, in his first 
season. " He's nearer forty than thirty if 
he's a day." 

'' Oh, it's only lately that he's come into 
a fortune/' returned Rosslyn ; *' he's been 
abroad, and in California a good deal, but 
he says he's tired of roughing it, and 
means to enjoy his aunt's money in the 
civilised world." 

"" Time he did," returned young Saltottn, 
who did not at present appear quite as 
entich^ by Mr Clifford Brandon as the 
helter-skelter son of Colonel Eosslyn, for 
such Percy was. " You must introduce me 
though, Koss." 

" All right. Ah, Jove ! there are some 
people I know," bowing low towards a box 
to the right. " Didn't know they were in 
town, — Lady and Miss Glen-Luna." 

" Deuced pretty, both of them," com- 
mented Saltoun, ''especially the daughter. 
I say, Brandon's twigging them too, and 



200 Nous Avons Change Tout Cela, 

saw you bow. Whew ! how frightfully hot 
it is ! " 

An opinion evidently shared by every one 
in the theatre, to judge by the faces, and the 
indefinite — ah — of breath when the gas was 
lowered as the curtain rose again, and a 
puff of air, somewhat sirocco-like certainly, 
came from the stage. A few moments later, 
while inimitable Mrs Bancroft chained the 
attention of the house, there came a deep 
growl of thunder above, as if the cloudy 
monster afar had roused himself at last ; 
then a flash that gleamed like daylight 
through the windows behind the gallery, 
and then a roar, a crash that shook the very 
roof and walls of the building, and seemed 
as if the whole mighty canopy of heaven 
were rent in twain. A woman in the 
gallery uttered a half shriek, aud cried out 
that the theatre was struck and would take 
fire ! There had been an upward look in- 
stantly — an upheaving of fear through the 
audience — there would possibly have been 



Nous Avons Change Tout Cela, 201 

a panic, but Leicester Albany, tall and 
imposing, stood up for a moment, glanced 
towards the gallery, and, as if speaking to 
some one near him, said quietly, but aloud 
and distinctly, — 

" They don't seem to know that there is 
a very lofty lightning conductor on the roof." 

The crowd settled, every ear heard, every 
eye turned on the speaker as he resumed 
his seat. Eosslyn said audibly, " Well 
done, Brandon," and Jessie Glen-Luna 
whispered enthusiastically to her mother, 
" What a dear fellow, mamma ! Isn't he 
handsome ? Do make Percy Eosslyn in- 
troduce him. I saw him nod to him." 

" We'll see, my dear ; if he knows the 
Rosslyns at all, we are certain to meet him, 
for the Colonel and his wife are in town 
too. Ah ! another clap of thunder ! How 
dreadful ! And so hot ! " fanning herself 
languidly, " I shall be glad when the curtain 
falls." 

" I wish we had not come at all," said 



202 Nous Avons Change Tout Cela. 

Jessie. *' I'm dreadfully afraid of being out 
in a thunder storm." 

The storm, too, was near, for the roll 
of thunder was almost ceaseless ; and be- 
fore the end of the last act Lady Glen- 
Luna suggested departing. Jessie rose and 
followed her out. Some others were leaving 
also, but, on receiving the name at the 
entrance, the policeman soon brought up the 
carriage. The thunder had rolled for some 
minutes, though the heavens were now a 
mass of lurid electric clouds as Albany, 
coming towards the entrance with his wrap- 
coat over his arm, saw — saw^ those two ladies 
again, too, and noticed that the elder had 
diamonds in her ears. 

" Lady Glen-Luna's carriage ! " 
In that moment, as Jessie stepped for- 
ward to reach it, there was a sudden crash 
of thunder overhead — a gleam, a flash of 
forked lightning, so fearfully dazzling, so 
close, that every one started back with hands 
to their eyes — Jessie, with a wild shriek of 



JVous Avojis Change Tout Cela. 203 

frantic terror ; her skirt was just alight, and 
with that shriek she was rushing madly 
forward, half blinded, courting the very 
death or injuries she fled, when, with one 
leap, Albany seized her in his powerful 
grasp, wrapped his overcoat close around 
her limbs, crushed the great door mat over 
that, and so completely smothered the flame 
beyond the portion of dress and underskirt. 
It was all the work of a minute, and poor 
little Jessie, really unhurt, but more than 
half fainting: with terror — hearins: the 



g 



shrieks of the women and her mother's 
voice, as in a dream, was lifted in those 
strong arms and borne to the carriage — 
placed at her mother's side. 

" You will permit me to escort you safe 
home, madam ? " said Albany, seeing that 
the mother was as white and almost as 
shaken as the daughter, and, hardly waiting 
for her trembling, — 

"Thank you — I cannot trouble you," 
stepped in, and the carriage dashed off", 



204 Nous Avons Change Tout Cela. 

leaving the crowd to stare and the storm 
to rage ; for now the heavens were opened 
and the rain came down in a deluge. 

Leicester drew up both windows, and 
bent forward as Jessie began to revive, 
under her mother s strong salts. 

" I do not think the flame reached her," 
he said gently. *' I cannot but be thankful 
for the chance that brought me out before 
the end. I went to catch my friend, Percy 
Eosslyn." 

" You have saved my child's life ! " said 
Adeline, for once with real warmth, real 
earnest sincerity and feeling — for this girl 
was the one thing she did care for — " and 
I do not know how to thank you enough ! " 

" Indeed, madam, you make too much 
of the slight service it has been my good 
fortune to render your daughter." 

" Ah, you may make light of it ! but 
her mother and father, nor she herself, 
cannot be so ungrateful. Who are we to 
thank ? " and Jessie's blue eyes, as she lay 



Nous Avons Change Tout Cela. 205 

against her mother, looked up in his with 
a mute entreaty. How bewitching she 
looked ! 

" My name is Clifford Brandon. Very 
much at your service, Lady Glen-Luna." 

" Thank you ! I saw you come in and 
bow to young Rosslyn." Adeline added, 
** His father s place is only ten miles from 
our own, at Doring." 

Albany bowed, and secretly thanked his 
lucky stars. If only this pretty little thing, 
were an heiress ! 

The carriage presently stopped at a hand- 
some house in Park Lane, and Mr Leicester 
Albany — for we will still give him his 
own name — assisted the fair Jessie out. 

" You will do us the pleasure of calling 
to-morrow, I hope, Mr Brandon," said Ade- 
line, cordially shaking hands ; " and the 
carriage shall take you on home now. Nay, 
I insist on it ! " 

" You must, indeed ! " added Jessie lan- 
guidly, but with a sweet smile ; and, bowing 



2o6 Notts Avons Change Tout Cela. 

low, Gabrielle's husband accepted and re- 
entered the carriage, giving the direction 
to his chambers in Grafton Street, where a 
handsome douceur to my lady's coachman, 
made that worthy decide "him to be every 
inch a gentleman." 

Certainly, Mr Leicester Albany had not 
done a bad stroke of business for himself 
that night. 

And so he himself thought. 






CHAPTEK XYIIL 

THE NEXT MORNING. 

R LEICESTER ALBANY was 

certainly not one of those mo- 
dest gentlemen who are content 
to blossom and bloom in unobtrusive, un- 
recognised virtue. He was the last man 
likely to lose a chance windfall or miss an 
opportunity for want of that inimitable 
quality, which perhaps no lexicon so ex- 
actly describes as the very terse, if not 
equally elegant slang word " cheek." He 
was perfectly aware of the value of that 
quality, used as he so well knew how to 
use it, in addition to his personal advan- 
tages. He saw as clear as daylight that 



2o8 The Next Mornzno-, 



<?> 



he had made a very decided impression 
on this Lady Glen-Luna and the fair girl 
he had unquestionably rescued from at 
least a terrible injury, if not death. The 
introduction was out of the beaten track, 
romantic ; and, if he had not much of the 
substance left, he could assume the mask 
of sentiment enough to deceive the most 
of the world. His scornful wife had only 
spoken truth in the stern irony of her 
words — 

"■ In birth, appearance, manners, you are 
a gentleman — in nothing else.'* 

But it was the first he kept before the 
world ; the latter he hid. 

" It only remains to ascertain her pro- 
spects," quoth Gabrielle's admirable hus- 
band dryly, " to mark her as my quarry. 
Pretty little thing, by Jove ! and I am 
certain, easy to twist round my finger, 
which * I'adorata Gabriella ' never would be, 
curse her, even as a slip of sixteen. So 
now for Percy Kosslyn." 



The Next Morning, 209 

He completed an adjustment of dress 
before the mirror with an extreme, al-. 
most foppish attention, to an effective 
appearance, and took his departure 
in a most halcyon state of self-satisfac- 
tion. 

" By Jove, you are in luck, you are, Cliff 
Brandon ! " was young Eosslyn's first salute. 
"I've just heard all about that affair last 
night. Haven't you just cut everybody out 
with that little heiress ! " , 

** Heiress, is she?" said Albany, care- 
lessly, as he dropped into a chair. " Is 
she an only child, then ? " 

" Well, it comes to that, I suppose, prac- 
tically, my dear fellow — try one of those 
cigars ; for, though there is a son by a 
first marriage, he can't live long. Got 
awfully smashed, you know, in some rail- 
way accident ages ago. He's dying by 
inches, I believe ; so somebody said, t'other 
day, at the Bijou." 

"Poor devil!" said Albany, lighting a 

VOL. I. 



2IO The Next Morning, 

cigar. " I nearly got smaslied once — ugh ! 
So this girl is — " 

" Heiress of all the broad Glen-Luna lands, 
after her brother ! " said Eosslyn ; " and, if 
she wasn't, I don't believe she'd have such 
a contemptible dower." 

" Still dowers don't generally run to 
much," returned his companion. "Not 
that I care myself. Dame Fortune has 
been kind to me on the whole, so that I 
can please myself. I am going to call 
there, as Lady Glen-Luna asked me ; and 
so you may as well come too." 

" All right, my boy ; I'm agreeable. The 
two ladies are charming, and Sir Arthur a 
jolly old fellow." 

" What sort of being is this dying son ? " 
asked Albany, as they descended to the 
street, and turned towards Park Lane. 

*' What — Douglas Glen-Luna ? He was 
the most splendid fellow you ever saw ! 
The most fascinating man in every way, 
and everybody's favourite. It's an awful 



The Next Morning, 211 

shame ! No one has seen him since the 
accident, of course." 

'* Where is he, then ? " 

" Oh, at Luna Park." 

" Then, Lady Glen - Luna is his step- 
mother ? " 

** Eather, my boy. I don't think she is 
much over forty, and he is thirty. How do 
you like her ? " 

"Charming, I should think. Her daughter 
is very like her." 

" Yes. Jessie isn't a bit of a Glen-Luna ; 
which is a pity, pretty as she is, for if she 
was, she'd be bound to be a regular beauty. 
So was the first wife, by her portrait ; but, 
by Venus, Brandon, talk of beauty ! I 
once saw a woman whom I defy any one to 
rival. I should know her again ; quite 
young ; two or three-and-twenty, perhaps. 
She was with an old blind gentleman, in a 
box at the opera at Vienna. He was 
English ; she was not, I think." 

" It's clear, cher Eoss, that you lost your 



212 The Next Morning. 

heart to this inconnue,^^ laughed Albany, 
with the slightest suspicion of a sneer. 
"What was she like?" 

" My dear fellow, language fails me — 
tall, slight as a girl, graceful as a houri, 
rather dark, very pale, features like a statue 
gifted with vivid life." 

*' Isn't that tortology ? But go on." 

" And her glorious dark eyes — " 

" Which it is evident she used with great 
effect," again put in Albany. 

" She never looked at me, mon cher ; 
though I certainly saw more of her than the 
stage." 

"And how did this beauty dress — wear 
her hair, my Eomeo ? " 

" Dress ? — exquisitely, in black velvet 
and silver ornaments, and her hair was 
just in rich masses of ripple and curls all 
over her head, fringing her forehead, fall- 
ing on to her neck. Foi ! I tell you she 
was superb ! You wouldn't look at fifty 
Jessies after her, I'm sure." 



The Next Mor7iing. 213 

'* Perhaps not," said the other dryly. 
He had recognised his own beautiful wife 
fast enough, even with such a bald 
rhapsodical description. " Who was your 
diva, eh ? " 

" Don't know, except that she was some- 
body's wife, for she wore a wedding-ring. 
I saw it as she drew off her left glove." 

" Somebody should be a very happy 
man," said Albany, with another sneer, 
" except for the fact of being her husband J' 

Eosslyn laughed ; but by this time they 
had reached the house in Park Lane, and, 
in reply to their inquiry whether the ladies 
were at home, were shown up into the 
drawing-room, where they found not only 
the two ladies, but Sir Arthur, whose hearty 
reception of the soi-disant Brandon, and 
heartfelt thanks to him, really meant far 
more gratitude than the effusive welcome 
of Adeline, or the slight blush and smile of 
Jessie, the most arrant flirt, by the way, 
like her mother before her. 



2 1 4 The Next Morning. 

" And you must both come to dinner 
with us," said Sir Arthur presently, when 
the accident and fearful thunderstorm had 
been discussed, "for my wife has asked a 
few friends, quite a little dinner party this 
time, to whom we should like to introduce 
you, Mr Brandon. Do you know Lady 
Constance Lee and her daughter ? " 

" I have not that honour. Sir Arthur," 
answered Albany, with a glance at Jessie ; 
*' I have not been long in town, you 
see." 

'* Indeed ; nor have we. I hate town 
myself," said the baronet, laughing, " except 
for a very short time ; but my wife and 
daughter like to see the gay world, of 
course, though they're not dull at Luna 
Park at all." 

" Sir Arthur is such a sportsman, Mr 
Brandon," said Adeline, merrily, " that he 
hardly feels happy unless he has a gun or 
something of the sort in his hand. Do you 
shoot ? " 



The Next Morning. 215 

*' Oh yes, Lady Glen-Luna ; I am very 
fond of sport." 

Which quite won Sir Arthur, and the 
visitors took leave till dinner time. 

But the sport Mr Leicester Albany liked 
best was to be found in certain brilliantly 
lighted salons with cards instead of game. 
That beautiful woman down at Luna Park 
could have told that too well. 





CHAPTER XIX. 



SISTER ROSE GOES TO LUNA PARK. 




WONDER what made Neville 
bury himself in Doring, even 
for a few months ? " 
With that remark, Douglas Glen-Luna 
broke a long silence, one sunny afternoon. 
He was lying in his most usual place on 
the couch, for they had been out all the 
morning, and he was rather tired ; so his 
" sweet autocrat," as he called her, had 
banned anything but rest this afternoon. 

She had been standing for a long time 
leaning against the lintel of the window, 
her hands loosely locked before her, her 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Park. 2 1 7 

eyes fixed dreamily on the fair panorama 
of hill and wold and river spread before 
their vision, and her thoughts perhaps on 
her own sorrowful, stormy past, or perhaps 
• — heaven help the poor, passionate, human 
heart ! — on a present very much nearer to 
her. So deep had been her reverie, so far 
from Chandos Neville, that the sound of 
Douglas's voice, low and soft though it 
was, made her almost start. 

''The same thought has crossed me more 
than once," she answered him. " They 
have evidently some very fair private 
means, and had a practice in London. 
Indeed, from a remark he made the day 
after your family left, I fancy he runs up 
for one whole day every week." 

" Ah, well," said Douglas contentedly, 
"whatever the reason, it is fortunate for 
me that he came, and that the lift broke, 
too, however that happened." 

It was the first time he had voluntarily 
made any allusion to the cause of that acci- 



2 1 8 Sister Rose goes to Lttna Park, 

dent, and now, as he said it, he looked 
straight into her face. She met that 
searching look without the quiver or droop 
of an eyelid, and answered, — 

" It was a very perilous curse of Kehama ; 
and if it has turned into a blessing, it was 
never — " 

She stopped short, setting her teeth 
sharply, and added with a shudder that 
was real enough, — 

" Don't talk of it — it was too terrible I 
I wish Miss Neville would call." Gabri- 
elle moved now to her little, low easy- 
chair, near the couch. '' Do you know 
that she reminds me always of Nathaniel 
the Israelite, in whom was no guile." 

" Does she ? Mrs Albany, do you ever 
— I am sure you do — in your own mind 
liken or identify people you know with 
their prototypes in music, those that have 
anything marked about them at all ? " 

" Oh yes, often ! Sometimes to a class 
of music, sometimes to a particular thing." 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Park, 219 

Glen-Luna smiled, playing with his 
moustache. It was evident that he had 
assigned a musical prototype to his com- 
panion. 

" Well," he said, " and what, then, is 
this ' Sister Rose,' as her brother calls 
her?" 

Gabrielle glanced up under the long 
lashes. 

" I don't know what you would think 
of her ; but to me, she is the very personi- 
fication of the divine Felix's exquisite 
* Calm and prosperous voyage.' " 

" Your very contrast, then," said Douglas 
impulsively. " For you, Rubinstein's gor- 
geous, passionate ' Ocean ' symphony is 
your very self Ah ! pardon me. My 
thoughts escaped too fast into words, Mrs 
Albany." 

" No, no ! Why should it not ? Who 
indeed, should so well hold free inter- 
change of thought, if not those who are 
constant companions, as we necessarily 



2 20 Sister Rose goes to Luna Park, 

are ? Where did you hear that magnifi- 
cent work ? " 

"Where? Well, abroad; the very first 
time of its performance. I wish you had 
been there, dear Mrs Albany ! " 

Gabrielle laughed. 

" How do you know I was not ? " 

"Ah, you were, I do believe ! " exclaimed 
Douglas ; " were you not ? " 

" Yes, I was there." 

" I wonder," he said, with a restless 
movement, "if I shall ever really be in 
a concert room again, and with you. I 
dare not hope — think — of the future, 
sometimes." 

"I can feel exactly how you feel," said 
Gabrielle gently; "but that painful dread, 
that very fear of hope will lessen as you 
grow stronger, and have more people about 
you again." 

*' En effet^ you think the instru- 
ment has gone thoroughly out of tune." 
But his smile was sad. "I think you 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Pm^k. 221 

will do more to tune it than a score of 
people." 

" Shall I ? But here, I think, comes 
one who will help," said Mrs Albany, as 
some one opened the anteroom door, and 
a footman entered, bearing a card on a 
tiny silver salver which he handed to his 
mistress, as Douglas's own household had 
speedily learned to regard Gabrielle Albany. 

" Show Miss Neville in, Watson," she 
said, at once rising to meet the welcome 
visitor, as the footman ushered her in. 
" Dear Miss Neville, we have been hoping 
to see you every day." 

" But I suppose," added Douglas, as 
he shook hands, at once fully endorsing 
Gabrielle's comparison, " I must not say 
better late than never." 

" Well, I daresay I deserve it, Mr Glen- 
Luna," said Sister Eose, with her gentle 
smile, as she took the seat placed for her, 
" and indeed I meant to have come two 
or three days ago, only that thunderstorm 



222 Sister Rose goes to Luna Park, 

prevented me. I see by the papers that it 
burst that night over London with great 
violence." 

** Yes, I daresay I shall hear of it when 
my people write," answered Glen-Luna. 
"Why did not your brother come too, 
Miss Neville? He must not think his 
early morning visit is ever to count at all, 
because that is strictly professional." 

" I will tell him that, Mr Glen-Luna, and 
he would have called with me if he had 
been in Doring, but directly he left you, 
he went up to town to see how his practice 
is getting on. You see," said Eose Neville, 
softly smoothing her white hands over her 
dress, "that for a long time past Chandos 
has been overworking between his practice 
and a very abstruse professional work in 
which he was engaged, and he is so earnest, 
you know, so deeply interested in all his 
work," — she paused. 

" Ay," said Douglas strongly, " his very 
heart is in his work, if ever man's was ! " 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Park, 223 

The brown eyes thanked him as their 
owner went on, — 

" So it is. Well, at last he got so worn, 
so overworked in serious earnest, that old 
Dr M — told him plainly that unless he 
had rest and change for some months he 
would have a brain fever. I had been 
singing the same song for a long time, 
you know, but," — said sweet Sister Rose, 
smiling benignly — "you young people 
are so proud of your strength and in- 
tellect that you never think that it can 
be overworked ; you run till you drop. 
Ah, you may look so wickedly guilty at 
Mrs Albany, my dear." How sweetly 
and naturally the words fell from those 
patient, peaceful lips. "It is quite true, 
and I suspect that Mrs Albany is every 
bit as bad as you or Chandos on such 
points ; you won't listen to reason till it is 
almost too late." 

" Oh, Miss Neville ! Miss Neville ! " cried 
Douglas, puttihg out both his hands, **I 



2 24 Sister Rose goes to Luna Park, 

shall have to lay lance in rest for both Mrs 
Albany and myself." 

"But you did get the doctor to hear reason, 
Miss Neville % " said Gabrielle, with a rather 
comic glance, and Sister Eose laughed as 
merrily as a girl. 

" Oh yes, my dear ; at last he got a very 
clever young man for a partner, and we 
went abroad for a month or six weeks, and 
then Mr Parker was obliged to go away for 
a few months for some family reasons, and 
asked Chandos to come here for him. Of 
course, the work was very different from 
his London practice, to which, indeed, he 
really was not fit to return, at least they 
all told him he would soon go all back 
again. A couple of months here will make 
iall right for him. But now, of course, his 
staying or leaving here will not depend on 
Mr Parker's return." 

" He must not stop here on my account, 
Miss Neville," said Douglas quickly. 

"Hush!" said Gabrielle, touching his 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Park. 225 

hand ; and Sister Rose answered, smil- 
ing.— 

" My dear Mr Glen-Luna, if you wish to 
get the most thorough scolding you ever 
had in your life, say that to Chandos him- 
self. He has so set his heart upon this 
matter, and I never yet knew him put his 
hand to the plough and look back ; neither 
will a few more months in such lovely 
scenery be such a very great hardship." 

" Are you fond of the country, Miss 

Neville ? " asked Mrs Albany. 

The answer was thoroughly character- 
istic. 

" Very fond of it in summer, my dear ; 

and then 1 love gardening, and the sweet 

fresh air and peaceful quiet. I am quite 

different to you two young people, you see," 

she added, smiling, " and then I have fifty 

years ; not that I ever was different though, 

or that I mean you will change materially 

with years. It is a matter of diflference of 

nature." 

VOL. I. p 



226 Sister Rose goes to Lttna Park. 

" But you don't, then, prefer the country 
for headquarters ? " said Douglas. 

*' Oh dear, no ; I like best to live in 
London, not in the whirl and racket which 
you people like, but still I am fond of my 
kind, of the society of those I like. I think, 
with old John Anderson's wife, that ' God's 
master- work is man ; ' though I am not 
sufficiently gifted with metaphysical power 
to call myself a student of human 
nature." 

Sweet Eose ! No, she simply followed 
her instincts and sympathies, and they rarely 
misled her, if she could not fathom the 
extreme of evil or passion so foreign to 
herself, or be capable of fighting out the 
world's fiercest battle, like Gabrielle Albany. 

Miss Neville rose as she said the last 
words, but Glen-Luna exclaimed, — 

" You are not going to run away so soon, 
dear Miss Neville ? You have no excuse, 
as your brother is away. Do stop and give 
us the pleasure of your company for the 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Park. 227 

rest of the day, and Marston shall drive 
you home." 

The pleading grey eyes and entreating 
hand were irresistible, certainly, even with- 
out Gabrielle's eager, — "You must stop, Miss 
Neville," and Sister Rose yielded by no 
means unwillingly. 

" Then come to my room and take off 
your things," said her hostess. " Have you 
dined yet ? " 

" Will you be shocked if I confess that J 
dined at two to-day, Mrs Albany % " 

*' Oh no ; we sinned in company, for we, 
having only our two selves to please, chose 
to have dinner when we came in from a 
long drive, so we will have a cosy high 
tea!" 

" It does not matter what dreadful things 
one does in the country, does it, Miss 
Neville ? " said Douglas, laying back his 
head, " even cosy high tea at — six ? I am 
ashamed of you, Mrs Albany, really, for 
encouraging such doings." 



228 Sister Rose goes to Luna Park. 

" You don't like tea then, I suppose % " 
said Kose. 

"Oh, ma foil Yes I do, though, Miss 
Neville, especially from fair hands," re- 
turned wicked Douglas, kissing the tips of 
his fingers to them as they passed out of 
the room. 

Such a cosy pretty tea it was, too, and 
Sister Kose sat beaming like mellowed sun- 
light on her two brilliant companions, and 
feeling as if she had known them for years. 
Perhaps the feeling was reciprocal. Con- 
versation never flagged, and then, just after 
the equipage had been removed, the post 
came in with London letters ; one for 
Douglas, and a little packet, both addressed 
in Adeline's hand. 

He was putting them aside, but Rose 
Neville arrested his hand. 

" Please do not make a stranger of me, 
Mr Glen-Luna, or I shall fly at once." 

" That would be too cruel," was the gal- 
lant answer. " Eh hien^ since you kindly 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Park. 229 

permit me, I will see what tlie little belle 
mere has to say of their doings, while madam 
shows you that album of photographs." 

The letter, which began, " My dearest 
boy," contained a very gushing account of 
the storm and Jessie's *' terrible danger" and 
*' courageous rescue " by a friend of *' dear 
Colonel Kosslyn's son Percy, who had called 
with him in Park Lane the next day." She 
enlarged much on the gifts and charms of 
this Mr Clifford Brandon, whom they »11 
" liked so much." He was quite an acquisi- 
tion to society, etc. The packet contained 
some beautiful new photos of herself, Jessie, 
and Sir Arthur. " And, dear Douglas, I 
was in such a hurry to catch this post that 
you might Kave them quickly, that I wrapped 
them over the cardboard with a piece of an 
old newspaper which was in my desk — had 
some faded photos of Jessie in it — so please 
excuse such hasty wrapping." 

" Your letter seems amusing," said Gab- 
rielle, as he laughed once or twice. 



230 Sister Rose goes to Luna Park. 

*' So it is," said he, deftly tossing the 
letter into her lap ; " it's so like la belle 
mere. Please read it to Miss Neville. I 
suppose poor Jessie really did have a nar- 
row escape, and the gentleman who saved 
her has earned our gratitude ; but he seems 
to have quite fascinated Adeline and my 
dear sentimental little sister. Do read 
it ; quite a lady's letter. Miss Neville." 

" Do you think all ladies write gushingly 
and in exaggerated language, then ? " asked 
Rose, amused. 

" Oh no ; I am sure you would not, and 
I know that a certain Gabrielle Albany does 
not," returned Glen-Luna, archly ; " but 
you will admit that a great many ladies 
do. I really now do not feel at all sure 
that my sister was so nearly burnt at the 
theatre door as her mother says, nor will 
you when you read her letter." 

Which while Mrs Albany read aloud, with 
its many italics, Douglas undid the photos and 
handed them to the ladies for inspection. 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Park. 23 1 

" I must write to little Jessie," he said, 
" about her escape from that most horrible 
enemy — fire ; besides, I must chaff her about 
this lady-killer Brandon. She is a rare 
little flirt, I am afraid. Miss Neville." 

" Ah, well, I suppose most young people 
take their turn," said Sister Kose indul- 
gently, '' and we should not wish to put 
old heads on young shoulders." 

He laughed, and shook his head. 

" Oh no ! Certainly not." • 

His hand, as he spoke, had been half 
absently, perhaps a little restlessly, tearing 
small bits off the top of the very piece of 
old newspaper wrapping alluded to in the 
letter ; and Sister Eose, pointing to it, 
said, — 

" Pardon me. Is that anything you 
wish to keep ? " 

His glance dropped on the print directly. 
He had torn away the headline and name \ 
but his eye fell upon the words, — 

" This was a suit for a judicial separation 



232 Sister Rose goes to Luna Park, 

on the ground of cruelty. The respondent, 
when called upon in the usual way, did not 
appear ; and the cause was, therefore, pro- 
ceeded with. The petitioner stated — " 

Carelessly, more because the quick glance 
could not fail to take in the summarised 
report almost all at once, Douglas read 
it down ; so little dreaming whose most 
miserable story of wrong upon wrong he 
was readinor. How should he, when he 
had never heard it ? He threw down the 
paper with an almost passionate excla- 
mation. 

" Look there, Miss Neville ! Man was 
made a little lower than the angels, we 
know ; but here is one of those records 
that might almost induce one to believe, 
with old Jeremy Taylor, that there are 
some beings in this world who are verily 
the offspring of devils and witches ! I 
should like to have a loaded pistol in my 
hand, and such a thing as that within 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Park. 233 

Gabrielle, who was placing the new 
photos in an album, looked up with some 
surprise, asking, — 

** What case have you got hold of ? " 
While Eose took it up, glanced through 
it, and laid the paper down with a look 
of incredulous horror and an actual 
shudder. 

" It cannot be all true ! It is too hor- 
rible — a man to actually gamble away his 
own young wife ! Impossible ! " • 

Impossible — was it ? Why, then, that 
sharp, quick start from the beautiful 
woman sitting there ? Why that sudden, 
burning flush of shame, and as sudden 
ghastly pallor, that left her very lips 
bloodless ? The truth flashed upon both 
at once, and Douglas started half up with 
flashing eyes and passionate words. 

'' Mrs Albany, forgive me ! I never 
dreamed of this ! Saints in Heaven ! I 
would I had the dastard here, to rid 
the world of such a reptile ! " 



2 34 Sistei^ Rose goes to Luna Park. 

"Hush! Oh, hush!" said Gabrielle, 
hoarsely. " I never meant — I — I — " The 
stern will was struggling fiercely for its 
wonted mastery ; but pitying Sister Eose 
bent forward wdth outstretched hands. 

" My poor heart ! Oh, my poor child ! " 

And the proud, suffering woman, broken 
down, knelt suddenly at Eose Neville's feet, 
and buried her face in her lap ; not weeping, 
but quivering from head to foot with an 
emotion that would have its own fierce 
way for many minutes. Then she said, 
brokenly, very low, as if the bitter shame 
were hers. 

" Forgive me — both ! It was only that 
it brought it all back so, so terribly ! I 
would not have had your noble hearts 
pained by such a miserable story ! " She 
rose up now ; and, putting one hand in 
Eose's, stretched the other to Douglas, 
whose clasp closed on it instantly like a 
vice. 

" Thank you ! " she said gratefully. 



Sister Rose goes to Luna Park. 235 

" Will you both, when we are alone, mind 
simply calling me by my own name, Ga- 
brielle ? The other ; you understand — and 
forgive my foolishness ! " 

Glen-Luna could not, dared not, speak ; 
but only lifted that little hand to his loyal 
lips. But Miss Neville drew the younger 
woman to her, and gently kissed her brow. 

"So be it,- then, dear child ; only you 
must call me Sister Kose." 

How like balm on troubled waters came 
sympathy and love ! Oh ! if it could only 
heal that wounded heart, and give back the 
fair bloom of unseared youth ! 

But who can undo the past, or read the 
future aright ? 




CHAPTEE XX. 



MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. 




YACINTH ? " 

"Well, mamma!" 
Mother and daughter unmis- 
takably. There was quite enough indefinite, 
not actual, likeness to show a near relation- 
ship ; though the question and witty re- 
partee that is told of the lovely Countess of 
Chepstow and her daughter would hardl}^ 
have found point here. 

*' What would you give for your mother's 
beauty, my love ? " asked the countess. 

" Exactly as much as your ladyship would 
give for my youth," returned the daughter. 
But here the daughter had the palm in 



Mother and Daughter, 237 

both, for Hyacinth Lee, at three-and- 
twenty, was still — 

In the full flowering of her dainty May, 

and gifted with a beauty which her mother, 
good-looking as she was, had never had. 
She was just now lounging in the laziest of 
attitudes on the sofa in her mother's boudoir, 
looking the very picture of saucy, idle 
contentment. She had a pretty shrewd 
idea of what lay behind the portentoiis 
opening. 

" Well, mamma ! " 

Lady Constance laid down the " society " 
paper which she had been reading, and 
folded her hands on her knees. 

" My dear, have you seriously reflected 
that time does not stand still even for you, 
and this is your fourth season ? " 

" Quite true, mamma. What then ? " 

" Well, child, it is time you thought of 
accepting, not refusing, offers." 

Hyacinth pursed up her pretty lips. 



238 Mother and Daughter. 

"Why is it time, dear? Mr Wright 
hasn't appeared yet ! " 

" I think he has several times," returned 
Lady Constance vexedly. " Why did you 
refuse Lord Clenham in your first season ? 
He was no fortune-hunter, for he had plenty." 

"Didn't like his dear little turned-up 
nose, mother mine," said the heiress 
jauntily. "He was so plain, they would 
have called us Beauty and the Beast ! " 

" Nonsense, Hyacinth ! You know well 
enough that I don't want you to marry 
any fortune-hunter just because he is titled, 
though I do very much wish to see you 
married to some eligible parti of your own 
rank. A coronet is what you would grace, 
and yet you have refused I don't know how 
many ! " 

" I didn't care one bit for any of them, 
mamma ! I'm of 

The eclectic school of thought, which flirts with many ; 
Too worldly wise to wed itself to any ! 

I'm not in love, mamma." 



Mother and Daughter. 239 

" I sometimes think you are, Hyacinth," 
said Lady Constance, looking straight at 
her refractory daughter. 

" I know you do, dear," said that young 
lady composedly ; " and so I daresay do 
others. Men are so conceited, that they 
can't conceive a girl refusing their precious 
hands, unless some happy swain has been 
before them. I don't mean to get married 
for either my beauty or money." 

" I tell you what I do think. Hyacinth," 
said Lady Constance, provoked out of all 
caution, " that you might have had Douglas 
Glen-Luna at your feet more than two years 
ago if you had chosen." 

" Ah, poor Douglas ! " The girl's face 
clouded suddenly. Then she said, in her 
old manner, " Firstly, I did not choose, you 
see, mamma dear, and secondly, he didn't 
choose your humble servant. Very bad 
taste of him, of course, but still he didn't 
see it. 

" Nonsense, my love ! He admired you 



240 Mother and Daughter, 

immensely, and used to pay you more 
attention — " 

''My dear, self-tormenting mamma of 
mammas, he never did, or said, or looked, or 
cared for me one bit more than he did for 
any other pretty girl he liked, and who liked 
him. It was only the way of such a care- 
less, cavalier sort of fellow ; and we got on 
so well, just I believe, because I didn't flirt 
seriously or make him feel that I thought 
he ' had intentions ' like Miggs. I know," 
she said, breaking into a very amused laugh, 
" that Lady Glen-Luna (and perhaps others 
too) rather think i am J [yacinth Lee still 
for the sake of handsome, winning Douglas 
Glen-Luna, whom she imagines no young 
woman can help falling in love with, though 
he never did himself, favourite as he 
was." 

" If she does," exclaimed Lady Constance, 
veering round with instantly-stirred ma- 
ternal indio-nation, *' how dare she think 
that my daughter is going to throw herself 



Mother and Daughter. 241 

at her stepson's head, just because he ad- 
mired her ! " 

" Oh, you dear old goosey ! and a second 
aofo vou scolded me because I had not 



you 



thrown myself at his head ! " cried Hyacinth, 
laughing heartily, " How do you think this 
new star of fashion — Mr Clifford Brandon — 
will do ? 0)1 dit, he's awfully rich, and I'm 
sure he is a most agreeable fellow, especially 
to flirt with, and really, I suppose it is time 
I began to seriously look out, or I shall be 
left on the old maid's shelf," — this with a 
sly, saucy gleam of fun in the blue eyes. 
'^ Wasn't Jessie wild when he took me to 
have an ice ? " 

" I think," said Lady Constance seriously, 
" that you had better leave Mr Brandon to 
Jessie. He is well introduced, and rich 
enough, I daresay, for a Croesus, and I like 
him very much." (" Which I don't," mut- 
tered Miss Hyacinth, " but he'll do to keep 
one's hand in and get some fun.") " But 
VOL. I. Q 



242 Mother and Daughter, 

still he's not the 'parti I should choose for 
my child." 

'' Perhaps," thought " my child," pursing 
her lips again, " she may choose for herself 
some day." Then aloud, — 

" Oh, dear me ! Why in the world can't 
the girls be let alone ? Why must they 
marry, forsooth I I won't — unless I go 
and marry a market gardener, like Dick 
Swiveller's adored Sophy AVackles, or some 
poor struggling professional creature who — " 

" Hyacinth," interposed her mother, 
solemnly, " if ever you dream of any such 
a mesalliance^ you will never see my face 
again." 

" Keally, how awful ! " Miss Hyacinth 
pulled a face a yard long. " I wonder 
which of us would hold out the longest ? 
Not you, mamma." 

" Don't you try me, daughter mine," 
returned Lady Constance, shaking her head ; 
" and don't send Mr Cliiford Brandon to 
ask me for your hand." 



Mother and Daughter. 243 

" Oh dear, no, mamma 1 I should accept 
or refuse him myself, honour bright, dear. 
I would not think of troubling you unne- 
cessarily. Ta-ta, now. I promised Jessie 
Glen-Luna I'd ride with her." 

And off tripped the refractory young lady 
to dress, singing saucily enough, — 

" Oh, I should like to marry. 
If that I could find 
A fine young handsome fellow 

Just suited to my mind." ^ 

Sunny bird of spring time ! Her life had 
hitherto been as happy as Gabrielle Albany's 
had been dark and sorrowful. 



END OF VOL. I. 



COLSTON AND SON, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH. 



^y 



UNIVERSITY OF IULINOI8-URBANA 




3 0112 045822373 






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